Heroes of the Zeroes: With a Friend Like Harry…
Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.
“With a Friend Like Harry …”
Most audiences were introduced to Sergi Lopez’s insinuations and iniquity in “Pan’s Labyrinth,” as a fascist caving in innocents’ faces and dreams.
Long before that, Lopez expertly inhabited a life coach/arts patron using death as motivation in 2000’s “With a Friend Like Harry …”
Dominik Moll’s French-language, evil-interloper thriller never boiled over into ludicrous stalker-movie action and surpassed shock-schlock tactics of something like “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.”
Fill in the title with “who needs family?,” and that’s a good indication of how “Harry” dove into — but didn’t easily resolve — the strangely symbiotic muse relationship at its core.
Being a family man has become rock-breaking routine for Michel (Laurent Lucas) — all sick kids, yard work and emergency repairs he can’t even escape while on holiday.
It’s then that Michel runs into Harry (Lopez) — a high-school chum who’s ingratiating, wealthy, accompanied by a buxom-ditz girlfriend and representative of the unencumbered freedom Michel lacks. Lopez’s Harry is tremendously unsettling from the get-go — his calm an anesthetic to reopen old wounds.
Enamored of Michel’s writing (which he long ago abandoned), Harry addresses Michel’s indecisive apathy — a perilous patronage Harry expects to be wickedly repaid.
It seems Harry would do anything to restore the competitive nature of a boy who once knocked his teeth in. It’s easy to wonder why, but less important than what Harry wants is Moll’s sardonic, satiric point: Evil can be just as banal as everyday life, and “Harry” intriguingly explores that with nasty wit rather than brutish violence.