Top critical review
on 19 January 2013
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.