with a friend like HARRY…who needs enemies? (2000)

Cover of With A Friend Like Harry

HARRY, un ami qui vous veut du bien is the French title. I love this psycho-thriller and have watched it at least twice. The handsome Spaniard, (Sergí Lopez), plays the main character, Harry, little known in North American, he also plays sadist Vidal, in Oscar’s winning Pan Labyrinth.

At the beginning,everything seems fine. It’s summer, the European’s summer vacation, or in America it will a road-trip to the cottage. Annoyed father, Michel (Laurent Lucas), drives in his junk-able car, with wife, Claire (Mathilde Seigner), and three kids screaming “Are we there yet” in French. I don’t blame them, the car is sans air-conditioner.

Tired of screaming and the heat, Michel takes a break in the mens room of a gas station. Cooling off with water from the tap, instinctively, he knows someone is starring at him, and later acknowledges that literally! Harry is starring and smiling at him; is he hitting on him?( It’s a French movie, everything is possible). Well, who knows, Harry was Michel’s school buddy, but Michel remembers nothing of him. After chitchatting for a bit and catching up, they leave the washroom. Harry greeted by his voluptuous girlfriend, Prune (Sophie Guillemin) waiting beside their shiny Mercedes, while Michel awkwardly introduces his family. Long story short (you have to watch it) Harry invites himself practically to Michel’s cottage.

At dinner, Harry recites a poem written by Michel published in their high school newspaper. Claire looks at Michel with that “What the fuck?!”, with Michel looking puzzled but enchanted that anyone knows of anything that he did, and for better or worse, that was a verbatim recital of HIS poem about a dagger!

Things obviously get weirder. Harry buys them a 4X4 all wheels drive SUV, because he wants to, and Michel’s car needed repairs. See, Harry inherited his parents’ money, and did hint that he might have bumped them off to get it. Anyhow, Claire tells him he is crazy and Michel will never want such bourgeois gas-guzzler the whole Republic despises. They drive back to cottage with her groceries, anyway.

Michel, a thirty something, with a family and two ageing parents,who are a bit controlling and condescending, live close by. One day he visits them, and brings them back to the cottage to meet Harry. Father (Dominique Rozan) in true French sarcasm describes the vulgarity of that 4×4 in front of Harry! Harry drives off with Prune without explanations.

Not to spoil this wonderful psycho-thriller, we know there will be body counts! So guess who are they? The winner of this all is Michel, he comes out renewed.

The great thing about this movie is to take it as it, or like me, see Harry as a shadow, or devil advocate pushing Michel along things that he would never dream of doing, i.e., including killing people. Does Harry really exist? or is he Michel created nemesis?

Sergí is one of the best French actors,and he plays this role almost like the infamous Jack Nicholson in Shining (1980)! Watching the build-up of his psychosis is worth the $$$. If you like Sergí, be sure to check out Une liaison pornographique (1999), An Affair of Love distributed in North American.



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