Author Topic: Miscellaneous Review Thread  (Read 887 times)

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The Silver Bullet

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Miscellaneous Review Thread
« on: April 13, 2003, 01:56:33 AM »
I'm starting this thread so as that whenever you see a film that isn't exactly one that every other member on the board is going to have seen, you can put your review/thoughts/impressions in here. That is not to stop people from posting reviews of better known movie in here either, just, well, maybe I should have called in the initial impressions thread. Ah, whatever. Just post about movies.

To begin:

My Initial Impressions of MONSIEUR HIRE
1989 | Patrice Leconte

Of the first six films that I was given in what is to become a sort of do-it-yourself film history course, two were directed by Martin Scorsese, two by Bernardo Bertolucci, and two by Patrice Leconte; or as Lucio said, "Two American, two Italian, two French. Three cultures. Three eras." Of the three directors, three cultures, three eras, the one that I knew least about was the contemporary French cinema of Leconte. It is for this reason, perhaps, that of all the films I have seen so far, with the exception of Bertolucci's THE CONFORMIST (1970), MONSIEUR HIRE has been not only my favourite, but the one that moved me the most, inspired me the most, and made a point about cinema the most.

The film is short, and it really only just scrapes over an hour in length. Whether the film would have benefited from being sixty minutes as opposed to nearly eighty is to be argued. I personally liked the unexplained scenes with the caged mice, and so to remove them to shorten the film, while a valid argument, is lost on me. Besides, despite what I believe is a definite market for short features [there is something great about the way you can sit down, watch RUN LOLA RUN (1999) for a little over an hour and get on with your day that really appeals to me as both a viewer and a filmmaker], they simply don't get distributed. To see MONSIEUR HIRE not get distributed would be a tragedy.

The film begins with some expository dialogue from a police inspector about the murder of a young woman, and you can be forgiven for believing that the film is going to be a standard European mystery film. You can even be forgiven for thinking that the inspector is the lead character of the film, a notion that I entertained throughout the opening sequences, and event through the first conversation with Hire. Of course then it transforms. Suddenly the film is made up of monotonous footage of a man watching a woman through his window. The cinematography is beautiful in the same way that the ordinary was beautiful in AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999). The music is minimalist piano [the best possible kind] and repetitive [it scores basically the entire film in such a way as that it becomes familiar and haunting but never annoying]. We get some lightning and some screams and suddenly we wonder if it is not going to be a stalker picture, and if Alice is not going to be the next victim of Hire. But the man is a walking contradiction. He tells us people hates him, but at the bowling alley he is a hero. There is a little girl in his building who seems to have, if not a certain affinity with him, than at least a kindly interest. But these contradictions keep in tone with the film, which is not a mystery film, and not a stalker picture, but a love story in the same way that LEAVING LAS VEGAS (1995) is a love story. Hire is undesirable. He has giant flaws. He is unattractive and unsociable. When he talks, he is more often than not, quite rude. But the object of his desires, the woman across the street, Alice, seems to like him all the same. He takes her out to his favourite place, which happens to be a railway station, where he can sit and watch more people. We learn things as the plot progresses than transforms not only the plot, but the character. Slowly our initial impressions of both film and Hire are altered, and we no longer feel fear or dread, but sympathy and sorrow [especially the latter and especially later on]. This is the trick that the film has. The story is not so much blatantly original. The characters are not particularly well drawn. But like DANCER IN DARK (2000) it works on a purely emotional level because Leconte is pleased to keep revealing the story piece by piece, not as a mystery, but as a story.

For all of its bravura technique MONSIEUR HIRE works simply as a story that needs to be told. It isn't long and it isn't complex, but it is told perfectly, to the very letter, and thus it works. Of course there is a question at the end to the validity of the love that Alice had for Hire. Like with THE KING OF COMEDY (1983), which I had seen only a night before, it seems that I may have been too naļve as I watched the film. With KING OF COMEDY I readily accepted the ending, and only thought about the nature of it later on. With HIRE I accepted Alice's motives for the relationship throughout, even during her betrayal, and now I ask whether she even loved him at all.

But no matter. Whether Alice loved the lead character or not, for me, is beside the point. What matters is that Hire loved her, and in death, his love for her was made eternal. Who are we to point out that his love was unrequited? He trusts that we will respect his happiness.
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