Monsieur Hire 1.0 stars

Fastidiously manicured French thriller, underplotted (it's from a Simenon novel) and overdirected, so that heavy significance gets piled onto very little. It revolves around a hermetic misanthrope with the sadsack face of a silent-era clown, who spends his evenings spying on his nubile neighbor (with his phonograph needle stuck in one passage of Brahms's op. 25 piano quartet), and who is suspected of the murder of another young woman. When a lightning flash reveals the peeper's presence to the peepee (so to speak), she begins to flirt with him: lying in wait and spilling a sack of tomatoes at his feet, etc. Some unrevealing character revelations (the protagonist at the ice rink, at the tattoo parlor, at the bowling alley, scoring strikes both backwards and blindfolded) fill the time until the satisfactory ironies of the dénouement. With Michel Blanc and Sandrine Bonnaire; directed by Patrice Leconte. 1990.

Duncan Shepherd

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