Touching, lyrical, erotic, suspenseful and enigmatic, Patrice Leconte s (Girl on the Bridge) 1989 psychological drama Monsieur Hire is both a twisted love story and a tragic thriller (London Sunday Times). In a provincia... more »l French apartment block, Monsieur Hire (Michel Blanc) endures a solitary life of dulling work as a tailor and vitriolic scorn from his neighbors. Hire s only solace is an occasional night out bowling and the voyeuristic admiration of his neighbor, the ravishingly erotic (Entertainment Weekly) Alice (Sandrine Bonnaire Vagabond, À Nos Amours), a beautiful, free-spirited woman conducting a heated love affair through un-drawn curtains across the way. But when police discover the nude body of another young woman in a nearby vacant lot, Hire becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation that brings him face to face with the object of his desire even as it threatens to ensnare them both in a web of deceit, accusation, lust, and guilt. Adapted from the book by celebrated Belgian crime novelist Georges Simenon, Monsieur Hire is a film of gorgeously muted widescreen color and funereal beauty (The Washington Post) that coolly unpacks sexual obsession and romantic love with an intelligence and understated intensity so delicate that you almost hold your breath for the last half-hour (Roger Ebert).« less
"I watched Monsieur Hire few years ago, and it has been a while since I've seen it again, but the impact that it has had on me lingers to this day, as one of the most chilling, disturbing drama/thrillers to come from France for a long time.
The film has been compared to Hitchcock, because Monsieur Hire keeps watching his sexy Neighbor, Sandrine Bonnaire from his window, voyeurism ala Rear Window, but I think the comparison is not totally justified.
Monsieur Hire, first and foremost is a character study of a very sad, misunderstood by all and very very lonely man. All the events that follow, up to the climatic ending, which I will not spoil, revolve around Monsieur Hire's character and failings as a human being and in society at large.
His obsession with Bonnaire is quite chilling, yet harmless. It is the love of a man who has closed himself to the world outside, and can only deal with his infatuation the only way he knows. And the sad thing about him, is the fact that his emotions are very transparent and lead to exploitation by some and hostility by many.
The success of the film is due of course to director Patrice Leconte..(he has made many other films, like Hairdresser's Husband, Rue de Plaisir, and Parfum D'Yvonne, but Monsieur Hire is still his best)..Sandrine Bonnaire, in the tradition of French actresses, is very intense and plays her character flawlessly..But all credit should go to Michel Blanc! What a revelation of an actor!!
Many have talked and written about Hoffman or DeNiro's acting methods, but one should really watch actors like Blanc to really appreciate 'method' acting! He is Monsieur Hire and Monsieur Hire is him. He does not play the character but is the character. He does not speak much, but his facial expressions speak volumes. There is a scene that I can never forget to this day. Blanc watching Bonnaire from his flat above. She is doing some ironing, and a thunder lights the dark night to reveal Blanc's face staring chillingly at her, with cold yet twistingly loving expression! What benefits the films as well, is its lenght. It is just over 80 mins, and the great talent of Leconte is to be able in this time to develop the characters, and the story without over analysis or sentimentality.
When the DVD market has been littered with so many unwatchable films along with the good and excellent, it is about time that this film gets its digital release to join the rank of the latter, and be appreciated as one of the most heartbreaking, chilling and sad films ever made."
MONSIEUR HIRE (France 1990) A Masterpiece
rudy | iowa!!! | 05/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MONSIEUR HIRE, directed by Patrice LeConte, is a flawless film, wining the French Film Critics' Award for Best Feature of 1990. The story, music, acting are all superb; yet the performance and very presence of Sandrine Bonnaire on the screen are quite extraordinary, establishing Mlle Bonnaire as one of the greatest actresses in film history. She has made 30 films and each one re- establishes her as possibly the greatest living actress. Sadly few of her films are available on video. MONSIEUR HIRE is a must-have video and can introduce the viewer to the incredible depth,range and beauty of Sandrine Bonnaire."
Fascinating Hitchcock-Style Movie
Susan Fong | Las Vegas, NV USA | 06/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shades of Hitchcock's "Rear Window" permeate this fascinating mystery which explores loneliness and betrayal. There is a surprise ending which I will not reveal but seems logical considering the motives of each character. The acting especially of Michel Blanc is exceptionally good. The story moves at a brisk pace, and you will not be bored. I hope this movie becomes available on DVD soon!"
"She didn't see you as a killer. Neither did I. But that's a
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 06/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""They'll find the killer some day, but no one will ever hold her in his arms again."
Monsieur Hire is the perfect suspect. Nobody likes him. Conversations die away when he passes by. Children play tricks on him. He sleeps very little. He never uses the lights. He sits in the dark in his room. And he likes to watch... So, naturally, when a young girl is found murdered, Hire finds himself put under the microscope, both by the strange detective who regularly humiliates him in the course of his investigation and the girl he spies upon who suddenly confronts him, with very unexpected results.
Patrice Leconte's film is one of those remarkable career turnarounds that defy expectations. Best known at the time for his unashamedly populist French comedies, Monsieur Hire is the equivalent of the director of Adam Sandler films suddenly having a stab at The Girl With the Pearl Earring and actually getting it right. His adaptation of a half-remembered Georges Simenon novel (literally: when he finally got the rights, no-one could find a copy of the novel to work from!) works both as a spellbinding piece of pure filmmaking and an intriguing drama about the difference between watching and comprehending. Hire may think he knows almost everything about his neighbor Alice because he has watched her so closely, but seeing and understanding are not always the same thing, as he himself reveals when he tells one of the whores he visits the story of a popular old lady who fed the pigeons breadcrumbs: because of her kindly face, people never realised that in fact she was poisoning them.
Above all, it's a very sensual film. Not in any erotic sense, although there is a charge when Hire finally allows himself to touch another human being. Rather this is a film about seeing and smelling, the senses through which we first form judgements but which still allow us to keep our distance - and not just M. Hire himself. It's no accident that the film ends with everyone silently watching him, and with the camera pulling away from a figure who finally understands what really happened too late in a truly haunting image.
Sandrine Bonnaire does remarkably well in what could simply have been a cipher as the object of his attentions, pulling off the difficult scenes where she gets closer to Hire while still managing to remain a credible figure, but it's no slight on her to say that this is Michel Blanc's show. Lurking at the edge of the frame or isolated in the center of the image, the balding, almost expressionless Blanc's performance is a masterclass in control. Not merely physical control, but resisting the desire to make Hire in any way likeable or more accessible. There is no appeal to sentiment, no crack in the façade to let us in and recognise anything admirable or empathetic, no explanation or excuse for the way he is. As a character he remains strange and ill suited for the world of men and women. Even the possibility of love does not free him from his shell. And it's that very inaccessibility that ultimately makes him such a tragic figure. Hire is as dead as the murder victim, who the detective pointedly notes will never be touched again: he just happens to still be walking around.
On the surface, the film is equally controlled - Leconte and Patrick Dewolf's tight screenplay is spare and precise, but with enough room for director and actors to build on, while Ivan Maussion's unostentatious design and Denis Lenoir's restrained yet meticulous cinematography serve the characters perfectly. Even Michael Nyman's music rises above what was then his usual formulised mathematical masturbation to deliver something whose precisely formalized distance is absolutely right.
Still unavailable on DVD in the USA, Leconte's great use of the Scope frame is well preserved in Second Sight's sadly extras-free UK DVD, although the color seems slightly richer than the theatrical print I saw a few years ago (although that could just have been color fading). Hopefully a more ambitious DVD release with some special features will find its way to region 1 sooner rather than later.
Sandrine Bonnaire is beautiful & mysterious
dovefancier | London, England, UK | 06/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At long last, 'Monsieur Hire' is available in DVD format. What took it so long? For European films fans like me, life is not as easy as it is for Hollywood movies fans. For this reason we are almost forced into relying on imported DVDs without English subtitles or old VHSs! However, here it is now - I'm very pleased to be able to appreciate this atmospheric film once again, but this time with a better picture and sound quality!
Obviously I'm not going to talk too much about the plot, but this is a beautiful but sad, passionate but profound French film. The Director is one of my favourites, Patrice Leconte, who also directed many other masterpieces, including 'Hairdresser's Husband', 'Le Parfum D'Yvonne' and 'Intimate Strangers (Confidences Trop Intimes)'. His photography, the choice of soundtracks, the timing between dialogues and the agony that often appears in the actors' faces, all make me feel I'm part of his films, and I can't keep watching them without taking a few deep sighs.
'Monsieur Hire' is the film in which Leconte, for the first time, worked with the main actress, Sandrine Bonnaire Intimate Strangers [DVD], who plays a beautiful as well as mysterious young woman, Alice. The love and affection that a local middle-aged tailor, played by Michel Blanc, feels for Alice, torments him as he can do nothing but watch her from his apartment window. He turns the light off and plays a record when he watches her, and this piece of music is from Brahms' Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor IV (with Michael Nyman's arrangement), which creates further agonies in the viewer's chest. As he watches her, he realises that there is a serious secret in her life, which plays a major role in the relationship between the two people but nobody knows what she is really thinking - very clever. By this point, I was shaking my head, utterly engrossed, because I couldn't believe how incredibly Bonnaire and Blanc played their characters with so much emotion, even in the small expressions on their faces and their minimal body language - simply breathtaking! It'll be very difficult to take your eyes off the screen until the very end of the film, and I'm sure you'll love this amazing masterpiece of Leconte from 1989. Enjoy it!"