Monsieur Hire (1989) Poster


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A brilliant film of The Outsider, The Perversity of Love, Betrayal
cestmoi7 October 2004
Solid and perfectly paced camera work and direction, players of exquisite talent and nuance, make this Simenon novel a powerful film . The winsomeness and cunning of Bonnaire, one of France's great actresses as the love object; the fanatic and unsettling calm conviction of the police detective played by Andre Wilms; the furtiveness, loneliness, and longing of the brilliant Michel Blanc; and the cowardliness and thugness of Thullier, a man made to play the thug, combine to make both a believable tale and a great metaphor for our need for "the other." The Brahms loop in the vital scenes of longing are a masterful touch. A work of great competence, sensitivity, and truth. What is essential in the novel but too subtly hinted at in the film, is anti-semitism only suggested by the revealing of M. Hire's original family name in questioning by the detective. A truly great film.
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Subtle, spellbinding, elegant movie
anhedonia27 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers

"I could have turned you in. I could have, you know," Alice tells Monsieur Hire, as she looks out from his apartment window from where he's spent months peeping into her bedroom.

"Yes, but you didn't," Hire points out.

Thus begins a spellbinding love affair.

Why doesn't Alice call the cops? Because, she says, Hire obviously is a nice person. Which surprises him, because all his neighbors view Hire as a creepy guy and are quite willing, much like the police, to believe he's responsible for the murder of a young woman in the neighborhood.

Patrice Leconte is a rare filmmaker. He's a master at crafting genuinely tense, intriguing moments out of mere subtleties. His films are so superbly character-driven without any of the artifice of many contemporary, or shall I say, Hollywood, films that we are drawn into their stories without realizing it.

In "Monsieur Hire," Leconte takes the story of a peeping tom and turns it into an unpretentious, gripping, sly romantic thriller. It initially reminded me of "The Cry of the Owl" (1987), but works on a much deeper, more human and satisfying level than Claude Chabrol's thriller.

Hire, brilliantly played by Michel Blanc, is a balding, lonely middle-aged introvert whose only sense of comfort comes from watching a beautiful young woman, Alice (a gorgeous Sandrine Bonnaire), through her bedroom window. But Alice finds herself strangely attracted to this recluse, though Leconte always keeps us wondering whether she has ulterior motives. After all, Hire certainly is not Alice's type. And is nothing like her fiancé, Emile.

In a mere 80 minutes or so, Leconte packs more suspense, intrigue and sensuality into his film than most two-hour thrillers. A scene involving Alice gently picking up tomatoes around Hire's feet and another at a boxing match are infinitely sexier than anything Paul Verhoeven, Adrian Lyne or countless other directors of "sexy thrillers" could have conjured up. And Leconte achieves this without any dialogue or even the slightest hint of nudity.

Elegant, smart, sophisticated and seductive, "Monsieur Hire" slowly creeps up on you and holds you in its web until its perfect conclusion. Then it haunts you for weeks.

I don't know whether only the French could make such a film. I know Hollywood never would. And American cinema is the worse for it.
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Classic French cinema
benjones-1118 March 2011
Having read some of the negative reviews regarding this film, I think the first thing to make clear here is that there is no point in watching this film if your idea of a perfect movie is Jurassic Park or The Da Vinci Code.

This is a film that focuses not on the story itself, but more on the characters and the emotions that reside within them. The above mentioned films take an idea for a story (a dinosaur filled wildlife park or a mysterious religious secret) and then devise a plot which is by far and away beyond what would ever happen in the real world.

In contrast, Monsieur Hire takes a story in which very little happens: A man is suspected of a murder. The man is a reclusive misfit, devoid of charm or humour, but he harbours a love for a woman he has never even met: a woman he knows only through seeing her from his apartment window. Unlike the aforementioned films, the plot, from beginning to end, can be summarised within just a few sentences. But it is what is behind the plot which makes this movie incredible. It is the notion of love which drives the film.

The acting and directing show passion that is more intense and sexual than anything I have seen, yet it does so without even a hint of what you would expect from a film described as "intense" and "sexual". The intensity of the love shown by the protagonist is beyond anything that one would have seen before, and yet it is far from the purity that one would normally associate with such an emotion. Indeed, it is dark and tense, and due to the questionable character of its object, one is left in turmoil as to whether this love is to be admired, pitied or instead viewed as just desserts for a man of his nature.

Those who have scored this low on the basis that the characters do not conduct themselves in a "believable way" confound me. The whole point of a film is that it takes you away from the everyday scenario. Most movies show you fairly ordinary people involved in extraordinary stories. This one shows you extraordinary characters involved in a story which (in itself) is fairly ordinary. To score this low based on its plot is to criticise Opera for its storyline. The whole point of the opera is its music, and the whole point of this film is its incredible portrayal of emotion. Brilliantly acted, brilliantly directed, and this will haunt you for some time.

If you need your films to be Hollywood factory typecasts then don't watch this. You won't enjoy it. Go and rent out The Expendibles, and leave Monsieur Hire to those who appreciate art when they see it. I'm sorry if that sounds pretentious. I enjoy a cheesy Hollywood flick as much as the next person, but it's sad that there are people who can't see beyond Stephen Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis.
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Not For Everyone, But a Suspenseful, Erotic, Sad Thriller
lfalour27 July 2008
If you've ever been in a love triangle, or were kind to someone who loved you but you didn't really love them in return, you'll appreciate the sad dance of the three main characters in this film. A young man and woman are lovers, and she is watched by her neighbor, the unpopular Mr. Hire, black sheep of a Paris near-suburban nabe. They begin a friendship, and even a relationship of sorts, while a cop tries to pin the murder of a young local girl, also an odd duck, on Mr. Hire. Not wanting to spoil the story for you, I won't say more, except to say that the slow parts are tolerable if you know in advance that this is a very thoughtful, haunting movie and you've got to be a little patient for the wonderful reward, which comes right at the end. Very pretty music, beautiful colors and details, lots of sad little moments that remind you of the loneliness of daily life. I wouldn't actually recommend this to most people. I don't think they'd tolerate the lack of Hollywood flash. If you're smart, you'll watch it though. I got it on DVD at a public library and wish I could see it on a big screen, though the DVD images are very lovely.
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Esoterically beautiful
=G=15 September 2002
"Monsieur Hire" is a compelling and deep character study which tells of a reclusive and peculiarly enigmatic and antisocial man, the title character, who is a suspect in a murder investigation and who obsessively watches a beautiful young woman from across his apartment courtyard. A methodically plodding, plaintive, and somber film-making masterwork, "M. Hire" offers none of the big budget bennies and cheap tinsel and titillation of the usual Hollywood fare. Likely to be a love it or hate it flick, "M. Hire" should appeal most to Europic devotees and those into psychodramas and character studies. (B+)
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Another Winner For Leconte
ccthemovieman-18 November 2005
Monsieur Hire

For a man who likes great cinematography, nice colors and a pretty female face, this film offers all of the above for me.

Director Patrice Leconte usually makes stylish movies and this is no exception. It's beautiful to view. So is Sandrine Bonnaire, the leading lady. I'll have to see what other films have her in them. There are numerous closeups of her in this movie. This French effort doesn't show much "skin," yet the film has an erotic appeal. That tells you something.

Michel Blanc, the male lead, plays a strange character but he's fascinating to watch, too.

To be honest, the film has its slow moments but it is mesmerizing at times, too. The story is interesting overall and aided by two surprise twists at the end.

I am perplexed and frustrated over why this film is not available on DVD on which this great photography could really be shown off.
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Svengali-200116 June 2000
One of my all time favourite French films. It glows with provocations and peril. It rides the slim line between voyeurism and beauty and just manages to entice the viewer into the world of a lonely man. Do not listen to me, go and watch it.
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left me cold and alone...
speare20 April 2000
This movie is without a doubt, one of the best and most depressing movies that I've seen in a long time. With minimal expense a masterpiece was made in this film. The actors embodied both sensuality and callousness within the confines of a single scene. Not sinking to a trashy voyeur level, this movie proves that nudity is not necessary for sexuality, but at the same time displays one of life's little known truths. We all need to love and be loved.
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A Gloomy Little Gem
claudio_carvalho7 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
In France, the lonely and reclusive tailor Mr. Hire (Michel Blanc) is an antisocial middle-age man that does not like people. When the young Pierrette is found murdered in his neighborhood, Mr. Hire becomes the prime suspect of the detective (André Wilms) assigned to investigate the case. Mr. Hire usually stalks his neighbor Alice (Sandrine Bonnaire) from his window during the night and sees her encounters with her boyfriend Emile (Luc Thuillier). When Alice accidentally sees Mr. Hire, she surprisingly visits him and he discloses that he is in love with her. Further, he tells that he had witnessed Emile killing Pierrette, but he had not told the police since she would be considered accomplice of the murder. Mr. Hire invites Alice to travel with him to Lausanne, Switzerland, and leave Emile behind.

This is the second time that I watch "Monsieur Hire", released in Brasil on VHS by Abril Video in the 90's, and it is a gloomy little gem of Patrice Leconte. The slow pace gives a perfect development of the personality of the lead character in a awesome performance of Michel Blanc. Sandrine Bonnaire has also a top-notch performance in the role of a manipulative woman. The conclusion is also magnificent with the explanation of the omission of Mr. Hire. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Um Homem Meio Esquisito" ("A Quite Weird Man")
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A perfect 10.
movedout9 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Patrice Leconte's talents as a comedic filmmaker are no doubt renowned but he takes the dramatic, tragic reins on Georges Simenon's brilliant story "Monsieur Hire", a decidedly different approach to "Panique" which handled the same subject matter with the same characters. This involves sinister trappings of the utmost order.

A murder of a young girl in his neighbourhood sparks off rumours. Hire's neighbours talk while the inspector listens. Very often he claims, the one that seems guilty, is guilty. Monsieur Hire is not remotely intimidated; he rightly attributes their suspicions to his seemingly misanthropic persona. Living alone, he dresses in the same suit each day, goes to work while strictly keeping his greetings formal and uninformative, and comes home to a simple, inelegant dinner of a hard-boiled egg. You see, Monsieur Hire is not a hermit; he does not suffer from agoraphobia nor does he fear people. It's a lifestyle that he's taken up, due to mistrust of others, even perhaps a snobbish contempt of others. As per the inspector's investigations, he finds Hire bowling rather flamboyantly, entertaining the rest of the bowlers. He's their king. But when returning home, he is ridiculed by the children (he stays annoyed but does not grow scornful of them). One can still detect that he's more open to them than the adults.

The murder mystery takes a backseat to Hire. It's a taut, compelling character study that flows beautifully. It's structured so well and acted on so marvelously by Michel Blanc (who helmed "The Escort", my next rental) who effuses such a subtle, sad anger that defeats the man Hire obviously wants to be. And subtly is something "Monsieur Hire" does brilliantly when he's allowed to see, but not touch and allowed to touch but never feel. There's so much to be said for composing shots that hide behind exteriors, afraid to discover the intricacies of their maiden relationship. Leconte observes on the level of Hire. He photographs and captures a scene in its absoluteness, lingering just long enough for us to absorb its significance but switches it fast enough for us to want to know more.

Hire has a rather unsettling past-time involving the woman who lives across from him, a floor below. Like clockwork each day, he looks and sees everything she does, as though entranced with her life. She does notice him one day, shocked initially but then becomes interested in him. He does not want to admit that he's finding her company pleasant. Complicating their relationship is her boyfriend, oblivious to Hire but obviously no less painful for Hire to see. It's such a sensual affair; poignant as anything you could hope to see. Look for the scene on the bus that encapsulates their relationship in a glance. My only regret is that we don't learn more about Monsieur Hire before the film rolls to a close, but I believe we would have learnt more than we should about such a man.
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Kirpianuscus22 May 2017
it is a strange word, no doubt. because it is the kind of film who reminds old embroideries. the performance of Michel Blanc is the basic argument for this definition. but it is , in same measure, the result of beautiful performance of Sandrine Bonnaire. a film as a challenge. the mark of Simenon and a wise science to explore details. a beautiful build of tension and use of cultural/social references. and the portrait of innocence in the most subtle, delicate, precise and touching manner. a film about the woman/man near you. as question and provocative self definition and reflection. or, only, as painful lost of illusion.
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an excellent film
dbdumonteil13 February 2002
Although this film that is a remake of the Julien Duvivier's "Panique" (released in 1945) only lasts about one hour and twenty minutes, there is so much to say about it. Among the qualities that this film shows, the most important is its main actor. Indeed, Michel Blanc performs brilliantly this weird character hated by everyone that is Monsieur Hire. Moreover, we can notice that the film doesn't only focus on the plot, it also focuses on the character of Monsieur Hire himself. Of course, this man is unpleasant towards his neighbours, but Patrice Leconte attempts to make us touching this man. Among the other qualities, let's quote: Sandrine Bonnaire's performance which is smooth but cruel, the good use of Brahms' music, the quality of the photography and the film set (especially Hire's flat). As a conclusion, a great film from a director who is, however, more famous for his comic films such as "Les Bronzés", "Viens chez moi, j'habite chez une copine".
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A simple, probing idea that is stretching long and thin...
secondtake17 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Monsieur Hire (1989)

A simple movie with the protagonist and the viewer both made to be voyeurs. There is some pathos to the lonely man with some secret talents (like bowling) and some unbridled and unelaborated interests (staring at a woman through her open blinds as she dresses).

But the movie suggests some true stupidity and/or willingness on the woman's part. She does not seem to be an exhibitionist, and yet she leaves herself exposed. At one point she is shocked to see the man watching. But then she gets involved with him. A boyfriend has a separate intrigue at work which complicates matters, and this isn't very well developed. And finally there is tragedy, and a kind of lyrical/awkward final scene.

Director Patrice Leconte has a curiously unsensational way of treating some of these very private subjects. You want to like his films very much. They have small casts and try to deal with psychology instead of just sensation and plot. A better entry into his style might be "Intimate Strangers" from 2004, also starring Sandrine Bonnaire.

You can like the intentions here, and like the mood, and maybe forgive yourself for watching the man watch the woman (that is, watch the woman yourself), but it drags as if this is enough. And it's not. And if you're looking for salacious, don't get the wrong idea. It's pretty clean voyeurism. Disappointing.
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A story of profound love
dave-sturm15 May 2010
Lonely, middle-aged tailor Monsieur Hire (Michel Blanc) compulsively peeps out his apartment window into the apartment of the pretty blonde Alice (Sandrine Bonnaire) across the way. She finds out and seems to find it a little exciting. But this opening doesn't give a clue where this spellbinding story of passion and betrayal is headed.

Meanwhile, someone has murdered a young girl and dumped her body in the park near where Hire lives. The detective has his eye on Hire, perhaps because Hire is considered a weirdo in the neighborhood. He doesn't like other people and they don't like him (except, oddly, at the bowling alley).

The story centers around the emerging relationship between Hire and Alice as they meet and get to know each other. Complicating things is the fact that she is engaged to be married to someone else. The motives behind their words and actions are not clear at first and even seem contradictory.

Plot points are doled out slowly at first and the early part of the film requires patience. But towards the end, as a clear picture emerges of what is actually happening, the movie builds to a nail-biting conclusion and as intensely emotional a finish as I've ever seen.

The final slow-motion coda put a lump in my throat. If you care about stories of profound love, you should see this.
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Looks can be deceptive !!!
avik-basu188928 March 2017
'Monsieur Hire' is a film where you can find elements of horror, mystery, romance and comedy blending with each other and the result is a really endearing piece of work.

This is a film that is majorly about the deceptiveness of appearances. 'Monsieur Hire explores the distinctions between what appears to be the truth and what is the actual truth, both in terms of facts and in terms of the nature of characters. Patrice Leconte uses the the screenplay and his camera to play around with the viewers with certain misleading shots and by deliberately withholding information. Certain ideas get set up in the minds of the viewer, but these ideas get undercut and turned on their heads with the unearthing of the actual truths towards the later parts of the film.

Patrice Leconte's style of artistically using the lighting and his way of establishing thematic and character conflicts by the using of colour(blue and red) reminded me of Kieślowski. 'Monsieur Hire' foreshadows films like 'The Double Life of Veronique' and 'Three Colours trilogy'. It also has a Hitchcock-like vibe to it in the way the film keeps the viewer guessing and on the edge of the seat with the way the mystery elements are handled. The camera movements are fluid, especially the sideways movement which at times contradict the movement of the characters in the scene. The beautiful operatic score helps Leconte to establish the theatrically poetic vibe that he is going for.

'Monsieur Hire' is driven forward by a dynamic, passionate and tender performance by Michel Blanc. He has to play a character who stays completely detached from the rest of the world, is very unsociable and not at all gregarious. Maybe similarities can be drawn between the characters of Hire and Gerd Wiesler from 'The Lives of Others'. Blanc forces the viewer to completely sympathise with him and root for him.

In a nutshell, 'Monsieur Hire' is a poetic, touching and visually polished piece of work that I can't help but recommend.
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the image. and its root
Vincentiu4 June 2014
a film about solitude, vulnerability . delicate, precise, impressive. Brahms, Simenon and perfect cast. and a rare science of nuances use. an adaptation. who can be poem or parable or warning. or just pure testimony. about image and its root, about the other as part of yourself, about refuge and love. extraordinary in this case is the brilliant measure. the delicacy of images, the role of puzzle pieces of events, the confession as silence and the gestures as speeches. a movie who can becomes an experience for viewer. not only artistic one - that is, certainly, its first virtue - but a kind of new perception about the other and about yourself, about architecture of relationship and about the search of truth price. beautiful and deeply good.
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A moving psychological drama
Aditya_Gokhale31 May 2012
He is a quiet man, Monsieur Hire (Michel Blanc). A balding, middle aged fellow, a misanthrope and a recluse, he doesn't socialize much. None of the neighbours talk to him either; conversations die down and they start whispering as he passes by. A tailor by profession, Hire is particular about his appearance. He keeps some pet white rats at home. When one of the pet rats dies, he carefully wraps it in a piece of cloth and gives it a respectful water burial! He seems to be a good, honest man, but no one really knows much about him. Perhaps they don't want to know. But they don't miss a chance to sneak a curious peek at him like he is some alien being. When Hire realizes this, he promptly snaps back "Want a photograph?" Some neighbourhood kids make fun of him by throwing flour on him or making fun of him. He just brushes all of this off and holds no grudge against anyone. He just isn't bothered; wants to be left alone, as always.

It is no surprise then, that when one young woman is found murdered in the vicinity, he automatically becomes the prime suspect. Blame it on the neighbourhood! And more so, because a taxi driver saw a figure somewhat matching Monsieur Hire's description run towards the same block where Monsieur Hire resides. The police detective starts pursuing his suspect; there's no evidence yet that can implicate Hire, but the detective is in hot pursuit.

Monsieur Hire seems unperturbed, though. There is nothing that can possibly connect him. He has just become an easy target because he is "not sociable; and people don't like that". So Hire goes about his daily, mundane, boring routine; amongst his pastimes and necessities is a visit to the bowling alley, he is a champion at the game and is well admired by onlookers who give him a round of applause for he never misses scoring a perfect strike, even when blindfolded. He acknowledges their adulation with a forced smile. He also spends time at a brothel once in a while to satisfy his sexual needs but seems to be getting increasingly weary of it.

And then there's Alice (Sandrine Bonnaire), his object of affection who stays in the neighbouring apartment complex. He spends most of his time standing in his window, simply observing Alice through her open window directly in front of his. She has never noticed; has in fact, always thought that Hire's apartment was empty and therefore never felt the need to put up drapes! Hire observes Alice's every move, as she dresses, undresses, eats, sleeps, and once in a while makes out with her no good fiancé Emile (Luc Thuillier). Hire also is a lover of music and plugs in the same record on his player, the soulful Quatuor en Sol Mineur Op. 25 de Brahms, every time he stands to watch Alice. Hire just wants to watch. He is in love, but he knows there isn't much he can do about it. He just watches. It becomes apparent that Emile doesn't seem to be serious about marrying Alice. Alice knows this, but she loves him. Everything changes one day when Alice finally gets a good look at the ghostly face that has been staring at her all this time....

Director Patrice Leconte's effortless storytelling does a laudable job of building Hire's character for the viewers in a considerably short time. Right from the first frame, as the body of the young woman is discovered, Leconte's 1989 film "Monsieur Hire" has the power to grip! Sure, there is a murder. But solving the murder is least of film's concerns. Who did the killing is secondary. The murder acts as a catalyst and alters the status quo. How this killing decides the fate of our two central characters; that forms the crux of this heartwrenching story.

In its modest running time of about 1 hour 17 minutes or so, there is not one wasted moment and we can instantly connect to the two lead characters, Hire and Alice. These characters are both very human. They have their secrets, they have their ambitions, they have their motivations and in the end they have their secret desires! And therefore, not everything is out in the open; not just as yet. There is a lot going on in these characters' minds which we aren't given a peek at. The voyeur in us doesn't have the kind of luck Monsieur Hire has, as he gets to see Alice's life like a Live reality show! But Leconte has a purpose. For deep within the layers of this deeply moving psychological drama lies the darkest of human traits; motivations that drive a person to take the step they take, that might shatter all beliefs, all the hope one has instilled in humanity. There are important lessons to be learnt. Oft-stated idioms "Don't judge a book by its cover" are reinforced. Appearances are indeed deceiving. Your curmudgeonly, neglected next door neighbor could perhaps be an angel in disguise! But then there is the bigger question of trust and inherent cynicism that we social beings have to live with. How much can we know at face value? In the end, we are only human! Michel Blanc instantly makes an impression; his pale, round face, although deadpan most of the times, speaks volumes at its most vulnerable. Sandrine Bonnaire does justice to the kind of unreserved character she is playing.

There is a strong chance that no matter how surrounded you are by people, you will end up feeling all alone when you reach the film's shattering climax. "Monsiure Hire" is a melancholic character study of a lonesome man who falls in love. But at what price? Score: 9/10
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Worthwhile: a slightly dark, engrossing drama.
juancalzetta12 April 2004
I am not so impressed as to call this movie sensational or even surprising, but I must say that if you like dramas that unfold like a hedge-maze and if you have a some patience, this film is very rewarding.

Monsieur Hire is a French film that is suffering on VHS. Still, the sound, the picture, and the general feel owes more to the situational technique than to technology. Indeed, the story is pretty engrossing, and personally, as a fan of slightly demented characters and a good plot-twist now and then, this movie hit all the right buttons: a creepy guy, a cute girl, voyeurism, plotting, and an uncertain outcome...

The acting is pretty anonymous, if well-executed. My focus, the direction of Patrice Leconte, was mature even this early on in her career. Working back from 1999's "Girl on the Bridge" to "Ridicule" in 1996 and to 1989 with "M.Hire", I have followed her films and I consider her a solid director and one worth checking out. Her movies are always just outside the realm of reality and that, after all, is what I am looking for in movies: a bit reality wrapped in some fantasy and allowing me an hour of escape.

Indeed, I watched this film with interest and didn't even need a snack.

7/10, JCC
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I can't think of anything to say that is not a cliche.
Toad--2 December 2000
Watching this movie was a remarkable experience. It makes one see just how stunted and amateurish 99% of the movies coming from Hollywood are. From the storyline itself, to the direction, to the incredible performances, especially by Michel Blanc, it's like driving a beater all your life and then getting behind the wheel of a Mercedes - so that's what all the fuss is about!

Words like Masterpiece and Must-see come to mind.
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Trompe L'oeil
writers_reign8 July 2004
There's a Term Paper waiting to be written on why it is that Georges Simenon's novels are only so-so when read but gain an extra dimension when cinematicised, if I may coin a phrase. This is the second time around for this one, Julien Duvivier did a first-rate job back in 1947/8, shooting in black and white with the great Michel Simon and a passable Viviane Romance, under the title 'Panique'. Patrice Leconte is no slouch either and he has moved on light years from 'Les Bronzes' and turned out a string of intriguing, offbeat, enchanting and excellent films, indeed, his track-record is the equal of any of the great post-war French film makers (and totally eclipses, it should go without saying the pretentious pairing of Godard and Truffaut)and with illustrious names like Jean-Pierre Melville, Alain Cornau, Claude Sautet, Bertrand Tavernier, Jean-Paul Rappeneau, and newer kids on the block in the shape of Ann Fontaine, Daniele Thompson, Agnes Jouai, Zabou, etc, that is saying something. Here he turns in a very tasty offbeat entry and finds in Michel Blanc the perfect leading man to convey at one and the same time a sense of isolation and inner strength. This is a film in which most, if not all the characters have an agenda. The lazy cop just wants to nail the sad son of a bitch who he considers perfect patsy material just because he chooses not to socialize with his neighbors. This is now a crime? Alice, the subject of Hire's open voyeurism is anxious to keep suspicion from falling where it should, her own boyfriend, but such is the quality of Sandrine Bonnaire's acting (she turns in an equally offbeat and ambiguous performance in Leconte's latest film, 'Confidences trop Intimes', currently on release)that we can't be sure that she doesn't REALLY fancy Michel Blanc's essentially colorless Hire. Hire himself is not interested in diverting suspicion from himself, as he could so easily do, as protecting Alice, with whom he has fallen in love, from both the indifference of her boyfriend (which, natch, she can't see) and the repercussions should he (Hire) talk to the gendarmes. The only jarring note in fact is the aggravating Michal Nyman grating sounds that pass for music in his circle of pseuds. Pity I couldn't rewrite that to read Jarre-ing notes, had Leconte had the good taste to hire Maurice Jarre, or indeed, ANYONE bona fide musician. That cavil to one side this remains an absorbing film, not perhaps quite eclipsing 'Panique' but certainly fit to stand beside it. 8/10
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Compelling as thriller, moving as romance, devastating as social critique.
alice liddell8 June 2000
MONSIEUR HIRE is not just another allegory about watching films - its mechanics of voyeurism are much more complex and ambiguous. Hire is not the only spy - he is in fact part of a society where spying is normal, and a means of social control. The film uses the policier, based on realism and facts, and breaks it down, floods it with romance, ellipsis, colour and dream. The Simenon character study is kept faithful too - we sympathise with a sweaty, unattractive, possibly paedophiliac man in spite of a host of (potentially) incriminating details. Mostly, though, this is a study in ingrained anti-Semitism (pere Hirowitz became Hire), in silent group oppression of the racial other, in the ghosts of France's shameful, not so distant past.
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not much of a whodunit
mjneu599 December 2010
This handsome psychological mystery might have been remarkable if only it had:

A) some plausible psychology, and

B) a worthwhile mystery.

Instead, all it offers is a lot of self-conscious style and a compelling performance by Michel Blanc, playing a pathologically anti-social tailor (and murder suspect) who develops a voyeuristic obsession with Sandrine Bonnaire. The story (loosely based on a George Simenon novel) could have presented an intriguing game between the observer and the observed, but because the guilty party is identified too soon the final resolution is more sensible than surprising. The film, by design, is even more cool and detached than its title character, setting an effective mood with its claustrophobic wide-screen photography, but the lack of any adequate background puts all the action in a (very attractive) void. In the end it amounts to little more than a big tease with no real payoff: the climactic, final 15 minutes are no more special than the first 73.
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gelman@attglobal.net16 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This unpleasant little movie is partly redeemed by the beautiful Sandrine Bonnaire, but not by her character. What we have here is a story about a voyeur who regularly spies on a young woman across the street (Bonnaire). The young woman lives her life behind a generously sized window in full view of the voyeur (Michel Blanc). She never bothers to pull down a shade. She dresses and undresses in full view. She entertains her lover in full view (though they seem to have sex in another room. The voyeur improbably falls in love with her and she improbably contacts him soon after she discovers in a lightning storm that she's being watched by a man in the apartment building across the street. He's a completely unsympathetic character. I did not feel the slightest impulse to feel sorry for him. The behavior of the young woman is, in my mind, incomprehensible. Although "explained" at the very end by an unexpected plot twist which I will refrain from describing, her behavior apparently depends on her belief that he knows things about her and her lover that simply could not be divined through a curtain-less window. Movie-goers are accustomed to plots that are overly dependent on coincidence, and perhaps there are viewers who willingly suspend disbelief in films that rely on motives that are beyond flimsy. I can live with the former (for example, in movies based on the writings of Charles Dickens, which are packed with coincidence), but I have no tolerance for films that rely on plot elements that are totally unconvincing A romance between the all-knowing and unattractive voyeur and the much younger, beautiful, spied-upon victim? C'mon.
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Painting, love me Back?!
floatingfrenchcloud12 July 2004
"Monsieur Hire" is brilliant in depicting the impossible communications between human beings. Picturing you in an art gallery and admiring this wonderful piece. It gives you an enormous feeling that you have never experienced. What would you do? Would you shout: 'Painting, love me back?!'

Monsieur Hire lives in darkness and probably never had loved until now. The girl, just like the painting in the art gallery, is irrelevant. There is ultimately no connections can be made. What's relevant is the journey Monsieur Hire had and once it is completed, it is time to say 'Thank you' with a full stop.
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a tribute to baltic writers
marycadney8 January 2003
This cult film is director Leconte's tribute to both Norwegian writer Kurt Hamsun and Germany's Thomas Mann. Both told stories with minimalistic plots and nondescript settings against which amazing characterizations were revealed. Leconte's characterization of Hire is accomplished chiefly by camera angle and by passionate, brief statements made in a cold and byzantine context. Hire is a formal and precise man surrounded by sloppy busybodies. The object of Hire's devotion is a stupid girl -- any girl living on the second floor of an apartment building immediately opposite a another, five-story apartment building who leaves her bedroom window completely open night and day is either an exhibitionist, effectively inviting peeping-toms, or stupidly oblivious to her immediate surroundings. Leconte makes it clear to us that although the girl is uninhibited she does have some personal modesty, so we know she is not an exhibitionist. Her stupidity is proven by the ending of the film. We are left with Monsier Hire's devotion, which, bereft of its proper object, is, as phrased by Leconte, bloody useless.

Mary Cadney, Oklahoma City
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