Directed by Patrice Leconte, starring Fabrice Luchini, Sandrine Bonnaire, Michel Duchaussoy, Anne Brochet, Gilbert Melki and Hélène Surgère.
French director Patrice Leconte's last film, 'L'homme du Train', continued the run of acclaim he has enjoyed throughout his career. Starring Jean Rochefort and French crooner Johnny Hallyday, it mixed character study, odd couple comedy and heist movie and now a US version is in the works. Whatever feelings Leconte has about one of his films getting the remake treatment, he'll have to get used to them because 'Intimate Strangers' is just too good for Hollywood to leave alone.
Tax lawyer William Faber (Luchini) leads a simple but dull life in his office-apartment - until the day Anne Delambre (Bonnaire) walks through his door. Visibly distressed, Delambre begins to unload some of her problems, with Faber becoming increasingly hooked on the revelations. A few minutes into the encounter, however, he realises that Delambre is in the wrong office and is actually looking for psychiatrist Doctor Monnier (Duchaussoy). But Faber chooses not to tell her, and so begins a patient-nurse relationship that will push both their lives into uncharted territory.
Unlikely couples always make the screen's best ones and Luchini and Bonnaire are superb in this story of loneliness, longing and the desire to start over. It manages to be both very funny and very moving, before becoming a little scary once Delambre's husband (Melki) decides that he too should start paying Faber a visit. Leconte twists plenty of film noir standards (endless cigarettes, the dimly lit office, a husband with cane and limp) in a plot that's impossible to second guess - what will become of Faber and Delambre is as much a mystery as what she really wants from him.
Like last year's 'Secretary', 'Intimate Strangers' follows people escaping from the shackles they themselves have kept locked for so long. And as the story unfolds Bonnaire's character goes from being addled and neurotic to exhibiting a powerful sexuality which leaves Faber holding meetings with his real clients without wearing a tie. "Do you ever travel?" she asks in a voice that probably leaves scorch marks on the side of film reels. "Yes, for my work," he replies, before delivering the classic line, "last year I went to Belgium." They're a perfect mismatch, commanding in some environments and way out of their depths in others - and in a beautiful two fingers to how Hollywood represents adult attraction, they both really like to talk.
"Once ajar, the door to female mystery is hard to close again," the psychiatrist from down-the-hall warns Faber. The beauty of Leconte's film is that he only opens it so much. And it's an absolute delight.