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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Friendship, obsession, murder: A first-rate movie
This French film starts with a car ride. Michel (Laurent Lucas) and his wife and three young daughters are driving from Paris to a rundown country cottage they bought and hope to fix up over time. It's hot, the three little girls are fussing and crying and kicking the backs of the seats. Michel is trying to stay calm. His wife is upset as she tries to settle the...
Published on 12 Aug. 2007 by C. O. DeRiemer

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3.0 out of 5 stars French Allegory
HARRY, HE'S HERE TO HELP caused a bit of stir when it reached the UK upon release. It isn't Hitchcock, even if it's pretending to be. This is nothing like as prepared or considered as that Master's work nor is it a product of such vivid sexual neuroses. If there is a similarity, it's that Harry is more a cypher or an avatar in a way that is similar to Hitchcock's blonds...
Published on 19 Jan. 2013 by Filmfan


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Friendship, obsession, murder: A first-rate movie, 12 Aug. 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This French film starts with a car ride. Michel (Laurent Lucas) and his wife and three young daughters are driving from Paris to a rundown country cottage they bought and hope to fix up over time. It's hot, the three little girls are fussing and crying and kicking the backs of the seats. Michel is trying to stay calm. His wife is upset as she tries to settle the girls.

The movie ends with another car ride. Michel is driving the family back to Paris. He looks with great love at his wife as she dozes next to him. He looks back at his children with tenderness and contentment as they lie next to each other sound asleep. He looks at the manuscript of a long story he has written.

In between shouldn't happen to anyone.

At a rest stop on the family's drive to the cottage, Michel encounters by chance Harry, (Sergi Lopez) a man who went to school with him, a man he can't remember but Harry remembers him. When Michel was in school he wrote stories, and Harry remembers every word. Harry stands a little too close, shakes hands a little too long, is a little too pleasant. He's traveling with his girlfriend, Plum, but somehow manages to be invited to the cottage for drinks. Michel, when Harry asks, says he works as a teacher in Paris. What does Harry do? He used to live off his father, he says, but "then my father died and now I manage his money."

Harry believes that every problem needs a solution. When Michel's old car breaks down, Harry buys him a new 4x4, far out of proportion as a gift from a friend. Michel and his wife protest, but Harry says "Why complicate life? I wanted to give you a present." Harry wants Michel to be happy and to write, and he wants Michel's friendship. And problems need solutions. Michel's parents at times make Michel unhappy. After they die in a car accident, Michel's brother finds one of Michel's old stories and makes fun of it. Later Harry explains that Michel's brother won't be returning to the cottage, that he decided to hitchhike back to the city where he lives.

Harry decides that his girlfriend, Plum, is a problem for his relationship with Michel that needs a solution. And then Harry decides that Michel's wife and small children are a problem.

This is a first-rate movie, part thriller, partly a study in murderous obsession. Laurent Lucas does a fine job as Michel. Michel is an honest guy who loves his family, who gave up trying to write, who is frazzled, who is just a little weak. He can't deal firmly with his parents, he tends to let his wife discipline their kids when they act up, and he finds it difficult to just say No to Harry as Harry gradually works his way into Michel's life. Lucas is a good looking actor but he's not pretty. He's believable as the character. Sergi Lopez as Harry brings a great deal of calm, unsettling friendliness to his role. When he stops smiling, you know the character is going to do something unpleasant. Lopez played Sneaky in Dirty Pretty Things.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and surprisingly convincing, 18 July 2007
By 
hfffoman (Kent) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Harry, He's Here To Help [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
This is a fascinating exploration of a situation we all experience in real life: someone tries so hard to be helpful that the result is exruciatingly embarrassing. The difference is that in real life the situation returns to normality before things get excessive or out of control.

I will only hint at the story without specifics to avoid spoiling it. The hero, Michel, is struggling to bring up 3 baby girls; his relationships with his wife and parents are suffering, and there are clues that he doesn't have the strength or sense to get his life under control (for example he buys a holiday cottage in need of renovation that seems way beyond him and wastes much of his holiday on a huge diy task that is completely unnecessary (though relevant in other ways). He bumps into an old school acquaintance who tries to sort out his life, first in a friendly way, then becoming gratuitous, pushy and finally insanely obsessive.

The unfolding of events is fascinating as you feel, on the hero's behalf, a mixture of gratitude, bemusement, fear, embarrassment and revulsion at Harry's behaviour. Two features worth watching out for are the irony of the ending and Harry's acting. Right from the first meeting there is something exquisitely, indefinably, not quite right about his carefully groomed enthusiastic smile.

It's worth commenting on two negative points made in other reviews. The one about the film being confusing is inexplicable. The reviewer must have had an off day. This film is very easy to understand although it rewards a bit of thinking to get the most out of it. The other comment was the lack of Harry's motive. Although Harry's character is so extreme none of us need fear ever meeting someone quite like him, it is true that people who dress and speak well can lose all grip on reality and become overwhelmed by an obsession, in this case Harry's belief that he has the solution to Michel's problems. There is a an incident near the end when Harry reveals his feelings while he is alone in his car. If Harry was meant to be an inexplicable nutcase, there is no way this incident would have been included. He is meant to be convincing and, sadly for humanity, he is.

I am sure you will enjoy "Harry, he's here to help" unless you can't stand subtitles or slow moving films.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gives ironic meaning to "The Dagger in the Close of Night.", 12 Feb. 2005
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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Michel (Laurent Lucas), a French ESL teacher on holiday with his family, unexpectedly runs into Harry (Sergi Lopez) when the family stops for lunch on the way to their remote country house. Harry recognizes Michel immediately as a former school acquaintance and the author of "The Dagger in the Close of Night," a poem Michel wrote in high school and which Harry has memorized. Michel does not remember Harry at all but invites him to spend the night with the family in the country. The relationship becomes more complex as the stay is extended, and both Michel and Harry begin to change. Suspense builds, leading to a grand climax.
This darkly amusing noir drama is filled with irony. Michel and his wife Claire (Mathilde Seigner), two ordinary people, are the parents of three screaming and bickering little girls, and they never seem to get enough time together, so their invitation to Harry is surprising. They need a vacation, yet they are reluctant to ask Harry and Prune, the stereotyped, clueless blonde (Sophie Guillemin) accompanying him, to leave when they stay too long. Harry is distressed to see that Michel no longer has the leisure or the motivation to write but has no clue that this may be a choice, and he actively encourages Michel to resume writing, even while in the bathroom. Other obvious ironies evolve with ensuing events.
Directed by Dominik Moll, who also wrote the screenplay with Gilles Marchand, the film develops slowly. The accident of Harry's meeting with Michel is so bizarre that the viewer may wonder if the meeting is a set-up, and Harry's motivation for his strange behavior is not completely clear, both problems creating more a sense of puzzlement than suspense.
Matthieu Poirot-Delpech's cinematography of the setting in southern France and David Whittaker's romantically moody piano and string music help create a sense of mystery. Sergi Lopez is a terrific Harry, a bumbling and seemingly good-hearted admirer of Michel, and Laurent Lucas as Michel is a suitably frazzled and somewhat overwhelmed teacher on vacation. The film is fun to watch, but I found the lack of clarity regarding motivation to be a problem in the building of suspense and the black humor not strong enough to carry the rest of the film (3.5 stars) Mary Whipple
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4.0 out of 5 stars Frequent Nods To Hitchcock, 29 July 2013
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Harry, He's Here To Help [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
This French film made in 2000 by German-born director Dominik Moll is an atmospheric, psychological thriller, set in rural France, and frequently evoking the style and mood of other film-makers in this genre such as Alfred Hitchcock and (in terms of French cinema) Claude Chabrol (who was of course himself indebted to Hitch). Whilst I do not regard Harry's Here To Help as by any means a flawless film, what Moll is very good at is taking a realistic, and often mundane, premise (and setting) and creating an engaging sense of unease in his audience.

Here, Moll's focus is young married couple, language teacher Michel (Laurent Lucas) and wife Claire (Mathilde Seigner), and their three infant daughters, who are on their way to their holiday cottage, via a nightmare (sweltering heat, moaning kids) car journey when into their lives, via a chance meeting in a service station gents, comes Harry (Sergi Lopez), erstwhile classmate (from 20 years ago) of Michel. Thereafter, Moll weaves a skilful plot whereby internal family frustrations (financial stringency, in-law problems, stalled artistic ambition) allow Harry to inveigle his way into Michel and Claire's world of domesticity, leaving the audience questioning what might be his motives. Of course, given Moll's (obviously) ironic film title, we know all will not be tickety-boo, and indeed Harry gradually begins to assume the role of, in effect, an obsessive, controlling stalker, exhibiting a worrying mix of hedonism and nihilism (but, strangely, with what he considers to be Michel's best interests at heart).

Acting-wise, Moll's cast is consistently excellent, with both Lucas and Seigner providing totally convincing, and naturalistic, performances whilst Lopez delivers a nicely understated turn as our simmering nut job. Then, on Harry's long list of personal antagonists, we have similarly impressive renditions from Dominique Rozan and Liliane Rovère as Michel's bickering parents, and from Michel Fau as Michel's geeky, hippy brother, Eric. For me, probably the weakest strand to Moll's film is Harry's flamboyant, and frank, spiritual (and sexual) side, coupled with the attraction he has for girlfriend Plum (Sophie Guillemin).

Overall, therefore, a very impressive (and frequently subtle) psychological thriller. In addition to the obvious Hitchcock comparison, parallels have been drawn between Moll's film and the work of the Coen brothers and whilst I do detect some similarities, I think another equally valid comparison might be made with some of the work of new(ish) British director, Ben Wheatley (with Moll showing a perhaps more subtle, and conventional, sense of macabre dark humour than his British counterpart). However, whilst such international comparisons may be valid, for me, Moll's film does come over as being quintessentially French (and I mean that as a complement).

Moll, who is certainly only a sporadic film-maker (4 features in nearly 20 years) also went on the make the similarly unsettling (though not quite as impressive) Lemming in 2005.
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3.0 out of 5 stars French Allegory, 19 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Harry, He's Here To Help [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
HARRY, HE'S HERE TO HELP caused a bit of stir when it reached the UK upon release. It isn't Hitchcock, even if it's pretending to be. This is nothing like as prepared or considered as that Master's work nor is it a product of such vivid sexual neuroses. If there is a similarity, it's that Harry is more a cypher or an avatar in a way that is similar to Hitchcock's blonds but it's a fuzzy link. The blonds in Hitchcock at least have some realistic responses and also, as actresses, were groomed to be respond to intense direction and, as such, show the imprint of a the filmmaker like a fingerprint smudge: there is a double life in or on them. Here, Harry is more like a demond from mediaeval French fables, sent to terrorize the poor, innocent Frenchman and his wife into becoming better people. Only, because it's now and not then, this means being middle class and having a 4x4. So, the allegorical figure, like a demon from a fairy tale, comes to frighten the parents into having better sex and upgrading their car via a bit of middle-class crime of sorts. Harry's girlfriend, a Gallic Marilyn Munroe, is also an effect of a Gothic imagination, is sacrificed to the greater happiness of bourgeois cosiness, as well. So, all's well that ends well. That said, in a film that dispenses with some of the conventional 'Hitchcockian' tricks in getting to a parallel universe, such as dramatic orchestral scoring, adopts precisely this stratagem when substituting character-study for cinematic device at the moment Harry goes 'off the rails'. He isn't real at this point, just a demon in a thin musical cloak, roaring down the road in his SS Mercedes. His eyes start to boil and bulge and then we're sure he's really villainous, an anomaly that must be regularized by the close of the final act so the French bourgeoisie can go home early to bed for some sex with a naughty frisson. What would it really be like to throw our ex-schoolmates down a well and cover with soil? Surely this is not something we should be trying at home? Where will we put the BBQ? Or is that the point. Enjoyable but thin and gets thinner. I suppose the BBQ sauce is, at least, a bit spicier than normal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful, 25 July 2014
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This review is from: Harry, He's Here To Help [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
There should not be any spoilers in this review.

I found this to be a superbly entertaining film. It has a very good plot, great music, some beautiful scenery, great direction and superb performances from the actors. Actors who in some scenes perform in ways that could have most of us thinking “I would not have done that (or this or the other)” but then we would not have the film that we see on the screen. Things continue to happen that in the real world most of us would not have allowed to happen – but happen they do, and what we get as a result is a film, full of suspense that you can not predict where it is going to take you.

The plot moves along subtly with no obvious stereotyped characters a la Hollywood. What you see really could happen and is all the more watchable because of it.

The director had put together some very talented actors (Laurent Lucas, Sergi Lopez, Mathilde Seigner and Sophie Guillemin) who work extremely well together for the main roles and the supporting cast were also good.

The DVD gives you:

Harry He’s Here To Help
Scene Index
Extras:
Making Of
Trailer
Filmographies
Production Notes
Stills
Subtitles On/Off
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep Your Friends Close..., 22 Jun. 2012
Not only a riveting French thriller, but one of the best films of all time. Unlike many Hollywood films, you are led by nuances not by obvious, carefully-placed clues.

Less of a thriller; more of a slow, suffocating nightmare that you never believe is happening to you. The only flaw in the film is that we do net get to see enough of Sophie Guillemin.
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4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT, 4 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Harry, He's Here To Help [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
French cinema and storytelling at it finest, especially for all lovers of Hitchcock films. A true thriller in surreal unconventional sense that works on numerous levels.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not in English, 18 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Harry, He's Here To Help [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
Didn't realize that it wasn't in English so I turned it off have watched it because of that . not into reading sub titles
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0 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Improbable plot, dishy leads!, 25 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Harry, He's Here To Help [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
'Harry He's Here To Help' is not funny, not tense, and by no means probable. It is a far-fetched story of a family unwillingly teaming up with Harry and Prune, an odd couple they met in a petrol station along the motorway. Harry has ulterior motives for working his way into the family. After having watched the film, they remain ulterior, because they elude me. Harry killed off 5 characters in the process and was stabbed to death himself, eventually. Why? Don't ask me; I haven't got a clue. I found HHHTH weird and incomprehensible. Two stars to gorgeous Laurent Lucas and Sergi Lopez. Them flaunting their masculinity in almost every scene was ample compensation for watching this crap.
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Harry, He's Here To Help [DVD] [2000]
Harry, He's Here To Help [DVD] [2000] by Dominik Moll (DVD - 2001)
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