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getting the airing on these shores that it deserves. What‘s more. due to the London date being shuffled back a week. we face the rare spectacle of a movie getting its first run in this country at the Edinburgh Filmhouse.
Longtime French comedy performer Michel Blanc‘s deep brown eyes and delicate bald head lend him a strikingly alien screen presence as Monsieur Hire. Shunned by all the neighbours. scorned by their children. Hire is a withdrawn type who leads a frugal existence in a nondescript apartment block. and is immediately marked down as a suspect when a young girl is found murdered nearby.
It‘s no surprise that Monsieur Hire has his secrets. Every evening. he sits calmly by the window and casts his gaze across the courtyard to watch Alice. an attractive waitress (played by Sandrine Bonnaire). as she moves around or sometimes undresses in her room. Before too long. however. she discovers his surreptitious attentions. yet her initial shock is merely to prove the catalyst for a passionate. enticing amourfou when she makes contact with her strange admirer. As the sensitive heart that beats beneath Monsieur Hire‘s
placid exterior is at length revealed. the police investigating the local slaying draw closer to the truth. ‘For me the principal subject of Monsieur Hire is desire.‘ explains director Patrice Leeonte. a bespectacled. small-featured man whose initially meek appearance belies a precise distillation of thought and expression. ‘Desire is the most intense part of human relationships. The film is not strictly autobiographical. but I'm discussing things in it that are more personal to me than any of my previous work.‘ Leconte‘s involvement is obvious in the finished work. which in its deliberate accretion ofcharacter detail. evocatively restrained palette and intimate use of the cinemascope format indicates a film-maker with a
very confident idea ofwhat he wants.
It runs for a very spare eighty minutes too. With a shrug. Leeonte admits ‘l‘m not capable of making a film longer than an hour and a half. Monsieur Hire revolves around the concentration ofemotion. and it would simply be dissipated ifit ran on too long. My first version was only a minute longer than the final cut.‘
Michel Blanc's strong leading performance reﬂects the
pared-down concision of the film as a whole. but the actor best known in Britain for his work in Bertrand Blier‘s 'I'enu de Soiree was not without his misgivings. ‘I suppose I was afraid of being boring. but that very low-key style was the only way to become Monsieur Hire. It‘s the kind of role where you have to use your feelings very forcefully so that the audience see the emotion in your look. so that they sense the life in your eyes.‘
As Blanc's words suggest. the film makes a very unlikely romantic hero out of a man who is basically a voyeur. But director Leeonte is quick to correct me on my use of the term. "1‘0 me the word voyeur has all sorts of distasteful and bizarre sexual connotations.‘ he explains. ‘Like the James Stewart character in Rear Window. just because you look at people it doesn‘t make you a voyeur. In his soul. Monsieur Hire is a romantic. a very sensual man. He may appear cut off but he‘s merely waiting for an event that will illuminate his life. Alice provides that spark.’
Monsieur l I ire ( 15 ) screens at the Edinburgh Filrn/zouse from Sir/122 Apr to Sat5 May. See Film Listings for further programme details.
I MONSIEUR HIRE (18) Gripping French thrillerhas the remarkable Michel Blanc as the eponymous recluse whose habit of spying on attractive neighbour Sandrine Bonnaire is to entangle him in an unsolved murder and a passionate romance. Adapted from a novel by Georges Simenon. See preview. Edinburgh Filmhouse Sun 22 April to Sat 5 May; Glasgow Film Theatre special preview Tue 1 May.
I CHICAGO JOE AND THE SHOWGIRL (18) Kiefer Sutherland and Emily Lloyd star in Bernard Rose’slllm version of one of Britain's most imfamous criminal cases. the so-called Cleft Chin Murderof 1944. when an American servicemen and a London dancer went on a week-long trail of destruction and eventually death. See review. Odeons Glasgow and Edinburgh, UCIsfrom Fri 20 Apr.
I ROGER AND ME (15) Formeriourno Michael Moore sold his house and auctioned off its contents to fund this alternately hilarious and saddening portrait of the disastrous effects on his hometown of Flint. Michigan when new General Motors boss Roger Smith lays off most of the factory workers there. An unlikely winnerwhich comes highly recommended. See feature. Glasgow Cannon Sauchiehall Street and
Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 27 Apr.
I SKI PATROL (PG) Or should it be ‘Police Academy on lce'. Yes, the producer behind the series of comic cop capers. Mr Paul Maslansky, presents
his latest brainchild with these humorous misadventures at a top American ski resort. We can hardly wait. Wide Cannon release and UCls from Fri 20 Apr.
I SHOCKER (18)Wes Craven, the man who brought you Nightmare on Elm Street and Freddy Krueger, returns with his latest villainous creation in Horace Pinker. a murderous TV repairman whose execution by electric chair isjustthe beginning ofa rampaging horrorfest. Yikes! See review. Odeon Glasgow and UCls from Fri 20 Apr.
The List 2” April — 3 May 199017