Intimate Strangers

Director: Patrice Leconte

Throughout his career, French director Patrice Leconte has had a recurring fascination with the unlikely yet seemingly destined friendships that develop between two eccentric characters—whether it is in the magical romance The Girl on the Bridge or the existential male bonding film about mid-life evaluation The Man on the Train. In Intimate Strangers Leconte channels Alfred Hitchcock for this intelligently mysterious and conversational tale of William Faber, a straight-laced tax accountant whose world and purpose in life gets thrown into a tail-spin after a beguiling stranger mistakes him for the psychiatrist down the hall and begins unloading her personal life and marital disarray with the merest encouragement. Sensing a spark between them, even after the misunderstanding is resolved, Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire) continues to visit Faber (Fabrice Luchini)—needing a human connection source outside her dull work as a luxury luggage saleswoman and a domineering and erratic husband. Not only will Hitchcock fans cherish this fascinating character study that pays homage to Rear Window and Vertigo among others but it’s also a fascinating example of how appealingly seductive restraint can be on film. Whether it be between the gaze of Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson in The Remains of the Day when she catches him reading a romance novel or here throughout the entirety of Intimate Strangers—the film is sexy not only because of the deliberately mannered chemistry between the leads but because of some of the wonderful camerawork which shows events from the point-of-view of the main character Faber as he tries not to let his eyes linger too long on the beautiful stranger and the camera rocks not only as indicative of his nervousness in the idea of a new flirtation but it’s carefully selective in its movement and nearly feels like the quickening of a heartbeat itself. While some may find this, like other Leconte works, slow and talky, those interested in something sophisticated and quietly intoxicating will want to give it a try. If you find yourself impressed, do look up the aforementioned films by the director as well as he's one of the most exciting French directors working today.