Intimate Strangers (Italy/Spain/UK ; 108 min.)

directed by: Patrice Leconte
starring: Sandrine Bonnaire; Fabrice Luchini; Michel Duchaussoy
Confidences trop intimes
Bruce says: "Patrice Leconte is my favorite living director - judging by the most films getting a perfect score. He probably has the highest average number of cats as well, but that statistic will not be pursued at the moment as it is too difficult to verify on short notice. Leconte’s films excite me, move me and entertain me. Similar to THE MAN ON THE TRAIN, last year’s Leconte, INTIMATE STRANGERS is a beautiful short story. It is small in scope and moves very slowly. Unless your film taste is somewhat literary, this film is probably not for you. Don’t think for a second I wish to discourage anyone from seeing this gem, I’m just trying to manage expectations.

"William Faber (Fabrice Luchini) and Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire) are two lost souls who find each other through serendipity much the same as Gabor the knifethrower passes by Adele as she is about to jump off a bridge into the Seine in THE GIRL ON THE BRIDGE or Monsieur Manesquier, the retired schoolteacher, and Milan the bank robber meet in a pharmacy in THE MAN ON THE TRAIN.

"Anna is distraught and in a hurry. She turns right instead of left on her way to her first appointment with an analyst, Dr. Monnier. She walks into Faber’s office and begins telling him her personal problems. He tries to interrupt but she doesn’t want to listen, she wants to talk. What he was going to tell her was that the analyst’s office is down the hall and that she has been telling her life story to a tax accountant by mistake. Weeks go by and she comes regularly. Faber is enthralled. His somewhat militant secretary, Madame Mulon (Helene Surgere) is confused. When Anna misses an appointment, Faber goes to Dr. Monnier’s office in attempt to get her address and telephone number. He confesses his impersonation and ends up having a therapy session with Dr. Monnier to find out how to handle the situation with Anna. Dr. Monnier is more amused than angered.

"Anna does return to Faber’s office. He confesses his true profession but Anna doesn’t care; she wants to continue the sessions. Faber is a good listener and for once in her life Anna is comfortable. So the routine is established once again. Anna comes to Faber. Faber goes to Dr. Monnier.

"Faber is shocked to discover feelings which he has spent most of his life suppressing. Faber has inherited his apartment and accounting business from his father. He is a man of habit and one who is afraid to make a first move, particularly when it comes to love. He still sees Jeanne his former lover. They slip into the bedroom after dinner in spite of the fact she is involved with someone else. Anna, too, identifies with a parent. Anna watched her mother kill her father. Anna has repeated that history by hitting her husband with the car, wounding him severely. As a result he can no longer work. When her husband pays Faber a visit, he tilts the status quo. Both Anna and Faber make drastic changes to their lives.

"The strength of Leconte’s films is his ability to let the films be character driven while at the same time paying close attention to the environment they inhabit. INTIMATE STRANGERS is no exception. The characters are well-written yet they are also defined by the style, pace and photography as well as the strong performances Leconte consistently gets from his actors. Time after time, Leconte paints a completely satisfying picture. 5 cats"

Diane says: "I was disappointed in INTIMATE STRANGERS, whose premise made it the
movie I wanted to see most urgently. The character of the tax lawyer--a repressed, compulsive man faced with a beautiful seductive woman--and the change he went through were unoriginal. But I did love how actor Fabrice Luchini's round eyes widened despite his efforts to squelch any response to the erotic confessions of a luscious woman.

"Luchini's dance in the middle of the film rivals the dance in BEAU TRAVAIL It made my heart soar. Gilbert Melki, the pouty-mouthed detective Pascal in AN AMAZING COUPLE et al., plays the husband. I think the title (CONFIDENCES TROP INTIMES) would have translated nicely as 'TOO MUCH INFORMATION.' Very good acting and art direction, but only 3 cats.

Michael says: "French filmmaker Patrice Leconte has some very vocal fans in Chlotrudis. I think he is a very talented filmmaker. But it seems that with each new film I want it to be perfection… better than I actually find it. With his previous film, THE MAN ON THE TRAIN, I as just slightly disappointed. It was still a marvelous film, full of insight, humor, and terrific filmwork. With his most recent film, INTIMATE STRANGERS, my disappointment has grown. He’s got a couple of marvelous performances by Sandrinne Bonaire and Fabrice Luchini, gorgeous art direction, and nice directorial touches, but the story is follows a fairly expected path, without any real surprises or insights. Skimming through his filmography, I’m starting to see where the unevenness comes from: his screenplays. Most of his films feature different screenwriters. Leconte himself adapts or co-writes occasionally, but by and large, his screenplays come from different people. I guess I’m bound to have different reactions to the various films stories when different people write them.

"In INTIMATE STRANGERS, Anna is facing marital woes, and goes to see an analyst. When she mistakenly enters tax inspector William’s office and reveals her secrets, he remains silent. By the time he comes clean, it is too late. The two have embarked on a journey that ties their lives together. It was fun to see Gilbert Melki (Pascal from Belvaux’s THE TRILOGY) as Anna’s strange husband. And as I mentioned earlier, Bonnaire and Luchini are marvelous and subtle. Fun to see William’s ex-lover Jeanne was a librarian (although it was a failure in her life as she wanted to be a writer). But the story is rather limp. The true therapist that Anna meant to see gives William some intriguing possible insights into Anna’s character, but while William follows them briefly, they are ultimately dropped without ever exploring them to their conclusion.

"The film is gorgeous though, especially the contrast between William’s first tidy office, and his sun-drenched new space. And I will agree with Diane about Luchini’s joyous dance midway through the film. How I love inexplicable dance numbers in films… from ZATOICHI: THE BLIND SWORDSMAN to INTIMATE STRANGERS, they keep popping up in the most unusual places. 3 ½ cats"