Intimate Strangers

Confidences trop intimes

Directed by Patrice Leconte. France. 2004.

Talking Pictures alias







About Us



Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire) has an appointment to see a Psychiatrist but goes to the wrong door and reveals intimate details to Tax Lawyer William Faber (Fabrice Luchini). He listens, bewildered, but on realising the misunderstanding, does not stop Anna booking another appointment. She has lost the bond with her husband (Gilbert Melki) who is now impotent and wants her to take a lover. William becomes intrigued by this woman who, on one level, has little, but has a dimension that is missing from his own ordered life. When she misses an appointment he tries to trace her and comes into contact with the Psychiatrist Monnier (Michel Duchaussoy), who thinks he is treating William. Powers shift with Anna's transformation. And complications arise, as the husband believes William to be having the supposedly desired affair with his wife, and wants it ended.

The Score and Cinematography give this the feel of a thriller, which it is not. The opening shots, which are intercut with Titles, are of Anna's feet as she walks to her appointment. We then cut to a shot of a wall, which Pans round to reveal the empty corridor in which Anna will take her wrong turn. Then a television screen shows an image of an old Bentley pulling-up on the gravel by the steps of a mansion. A young woman climbs out of the car and strides up the steps, followed by a man who pulls her round and asks who her lover is: He is Father Joseph who listens and understands. Father Joseph looks on. The Woman (Veronique Kapoyan) watching the television opens the door to Anna and directs her to another floor. She watches as Anna waits for the lift, perhaps causing Anna's disorientation. The camera angle is low as Anna walks into the Lawyer's apartment, with its mahogany, old paint, old wallpaper, and padded door. She sits, zips up her coat, and tightens her scarf, waiting as the Lawyer finishes a 'phone call. She clasps her bag to her lap as she answers preliminary questions. A hand held camera scans her point of view, and shakily tilts from her hands to her face as she lights and smokes a cigarette, and begins to talk of her marriage. She cries. She has no-one to talk to and is afraid she will go mad. Her husband treats her like a little girl. They no longer have sex, and she misses intimacy. She asks for a further appointment. We then cut to a scene in which William discusses his dilemma with ex-partner Jeanne (Anne Brochette), in a bright modern library. On the surface these lives are under control. At Anna's second visit she tells William that her husband is obsessed with having her make love to another man. She does not turn up for the third appointment. That evening William looks in to the windows of other apartments where couples relate. When he is not alone he is pre-occupied as clients try to discuss their affairs. Anna returns. She had discovered the deception. She paces round the desk and leans over it, as William sits meekly. She feels as if she has been raped. That evening she calls back and makes another appointment. That's the first Act.

This is William's story about his elusive client. We see little of her that he does not. And it is understated. I would not wish to divulge the outcome, but the therapy proves to be as effective as anything Anna might have received from a Psychiatrist. 

Peter Tonks
Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
Site searchWeb search

   Home | News | Features
    Book Reviews | About Us