“With a Friend Like Harry” – Jason DeMoe

Sometimes we come across some things in life that initially seems like they might turn out to be standard mediocre fare, but once involved and fully immersed in said thing(s), we realize that our expectations have been shattered in the most brilliant of ways, and we become ever so thankful that we decided to stick it out. With a Friend Like Harry is just such a “thing.”

Harry tells the story of a diligent family man, Michel (Laurent Lucas), on his way to his “vacation home” with his wife Claire (Mathilde Seigner) and three daughters. Along the way, he quite randomly meets up with a former classmate, Harry (Sergi Lopez), that he at first doesn’t at all recognize. Random catching-up chatter ensues, and one thing leads to more, with the eventual outcome being that Harry and his girlfriend Plum (Sophie Guillemin) will accompany the family to their home for drinks and such. From this point, on Harry basically inserts himself into nearly all facets of Michel’s life, and the results are less than supreme.

To be completely honest, I didn’t think I’d enjoy this film at first. As I haphazardly mentioned earlier, it seemed standard dramatic thriller fare to me, and I didn’t expect much more than what I had seen from oodles of films in the past. Often times, the premises are similar and the storyline twists are bland and predictable, but this one threw me for quite a loop. Excellent acting on the part of Sergi Lopez pretty much sold me on his character and the film in general. He plays everything so straight-faced and without regard to the fact that anything he might be doing is wrong or immoral or just plain twisted. Also, I really felt for the family dynamic, more so the relationship between Michel and Claire. A lot of what they portray is truth. It seemed like a real marriage to me. You could blame that on the writers, director, or the actors, but in any case, it worked.

One major thing about this flick that comes off as very appealing is the simplicity of the story. In this day and age of unwritten rules that seemingly state no less than 30 subplots per film, this one comes off with very few side shows, if you will. The core story is the one thing that we are asked to care about, and that’s how it should be with a film of this nature. Having only to worry about the Michel/Harry drama that unfolds before us allows we the viewer to better immerse ourselves in the story and gain true interest into what is happening with each character. Ultimately, it makes the movie all the more exciting, and our sense of enjoyment of the film is heightened. This was a brilliant move on the parts of writer/director Dominic Moll and writer Gilles Marchand.

If I was forced to choose one complaint about this film, it would have to be the character of Plum. She didn’t seem to amount to much of anything except a tool used by the filmmakers to further provide proof of just how crazy Harry is. At one point, she ends up kissing Michel, or he kisses her rather, but that was a useless scene in my opinion, and her entire presence here could have been avoided. She is, however, gorgeous, and not a horrible actress, so I’m not fully complaining as it were.

Overall, grade A film. Good acting, a great story, pleasing cinematography, and superb direction make With a Friend Like Harry well worth your while. I would certainly give it a chance even if you believe it might not be up your alley. This one can and most likely will surprise you.

Rating: ★★★☆

-Jason DeMoe

Jason is a movie lover by day, janitor by night. He’s a random, 28-year-old father of two who enjoys all things cinematic. Writing is a passion of his, and he hopes to infuse a bit of his personality and opinions with Passport Cinema.

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