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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Anna, (Sandrine Bonnaire), opens the wrong door and ends up in the office of tax attorney William Faber, (Fabrice Luchini), instead of next door for her first appointment with Dr. Monnier, a psychiatrist. Before the bemused Farber can straighten things out, Anna begins to unburden herself candidly, as if she's been on the couch for years. "I have an urgent problem," says she. Then, confessing that her marriage is on the rocks, her husband unemployed and impotent - he hasn't touched her in six months - she begins to cry. William is stunned, moved by her tears, but before he can respond she is out the door. Fast exit, no payment. Everyone knows that the fee is part of therapy.

Faber's life is bland. He lives in the flat where he was born, never having moved or really traveled. He inherited his father's business and many of the old clients. Used to an orderly existence, he lives alone and usually takes dinner by himself, with a glass of wine, while listening to music. Occasionally, through the window, he catches glimpses of couples, other lives. Jeanne, his last and perhaps only love, (Anne Brochet of the wonderful smile), left him for another man but they get together occasionally and maintain a close friendship. He is decidedly intrigued by Anna's visit but does not expect a repeat performance.

He is fascinated after visit number 2, when he finally manages to blurt out, "I'm not a doctor." Anna responds quickly, that she knows many therapists are not doctors and that's fine by her. Again, she leaves quickly. William is the one to visit Dr. Monnier, the shrink, (Michel Duchaussoy), who tells him that this situation is about his own problems and not Anna's. He also explains that accounting and psychiatry are not that different because, "they both decide what to hide and what to reveal."

As Anna and William's sessions continue and become more intimate and graphic, William is clearly aroused, almost titillated at times. He obviously begins to develop feelings for this confused, attractive woman, who says she wants nothing more than to regain her husband's affections. Yet, the two are deeply drawn to each other, their role playing is a way to form a bond without emotional risk. They are both odd, but sympathetic characters. William had dreams of adventure once, when younger, however he has become entrenched, staid, with middle age. A sensitive but repressed man, he has not lived life to the fullest. He is captivated by the graceful, unpredictable Anna. And she is intense, mysterious, vulnerable, and one gets a sense that no one has ever bothered to listen to her before. But can she be trusted?

Anna eventually learns Farber's true identity as a financial planner - just when he was making such progress as a therapist too. The plot takes a further twist when Marc, Anna's creepy husband, enters the picture which adds another touch of Hitchcock to the mix. The movie does succeed in becoming a low-keyed, but taut thriller. William's secretary, Madame Mulon, (Helene Surgere), adds a light touch as she tries to discover what on earth is going on behind the closed doors of her employer's office.

Patrice Leconte is an excellent director. He has a knack for developing characters, and here he has two superb actors to work with. The brooding musical score is atmospheric and serves to add tension. One of the film's major themes is expressed clearly by Dr. Monnier who says, "Listening is a lost art in our times: not even barbers, beauticians, or bartenders seem to have the knack or the patience anymore to attend to others in this way." I was deeply touched by "Intimate Strangers." It is an elusive piece, romantic, Freudian in a good sense, with a wonderful conclusion. Highly recommended!

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2005
`Attraction and avoidance' is a common enough theme in romantic movies. What's unique in Intimate Strangers is the setting and therefore the intricate dance that it creates.

Man and woman are brought face to face by a farcical error. On her first visit to her psychiatrist, Anna's distracted thoughts take her unwittingly to the office of a tax consultant. The general discrete atmosphere seems fitting enough, and she reveals to William, uncensored, the intimate details of her married life. Shy, hurt and lonely from his previous relationship-failure he is glad for the company of this beautiful and appealing woman. He plays along with her mistake long enough to evidence to us his interest and all-too-human need hovering behind his life of professional competency. This creates the basis for a relationship that will sustain its verbal tango long after we expect its consummation.

What is the fascination here? Well, if our hormones aren't pounding too loudly, we may have asked ourselves what indeed we are seeking in relationship besides the immediate gratifications of sex and romantic infatuation. How can there be enough distance in a relationship of attraction to leave room for a sustained dialogue of depth? (And if dialogue is all we're after, what is the place of attraction in all of this?)

How do men surrender their positions of authority (whether psychiatrist or tax advisor) to reveal themselves? What does it mean when a woman lies down for a man? Is she (whether in the role of lover or patient) passively receiving, or, is it really the way women give care, creating a comforting space for their rigid men to feel relaxed enough to unburden themselves? If she's - "asking for it" - is "it" actually intimacy - the intimacy that men can reveal only when they've been soothed from the fear of what lies behind their own mask. Distance and closeness. Past hurt and desire. These are the strands that are woven together intricately and caringly in this fine picture.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2004
Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire) enters an old office building, goes up to the sixth floor and rings the buzzer to be lead into the office of William (Fabrice Luchini), a Tax advisor. Anna talks pretty much non-stop about her marriage, her brutish husband, and her lack of sex life. Then stops, gets up and leaves: having embarrassed herself by her ramblings. There is a problem though: Anna thinks that William is her new therapist and William, seemingly so fascinated with Anna that he says nothing to the contrary even going so far as to schedule another appointment for the following week.

Director Patrice Leconte has plowed this territory before especially in his "Man on the Train" and the ruse succeeds for as long as it needs to as William comes clean to Anna early on in the film. Nonetheless, Anna continues to spill her guts to William and a sort of friendship develops between the two.

Most of "Intimate Strangers" takes place in William's stuffy conservative office and Anna is dressed in layers of dark colored heavy clothing. But as she blossoms from the benefits of her "analysis," her makeup, hair, clothing becomes lighter and more revealing: obvious but effective. William also changes and there is one odd though funny scene of him dancing solo a la Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" to Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" that has to be seen to be believed.

"Intimate Strangers" is a strange little movie that expects a lot from its viewers but just manages to stay on our good side by treating us like we have some intelligence and taste. Though it teeters on the edge of facetiousness, it doesn't ever make the leap over.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2006
I had the absolute pleasure of attending a local French Film Festival and seeing "Confidences trop intimes" by Parisian filmmaker Patrice Leconte. I wasn't quite sure what to expect after reading the film's description and figured it would end up being a somewhat interesting short film.

I was pleasantly surprised to find myself eagerly awaiting each and every scene as though I was watching a suspense movie or a thriller! From the moment the mysterious and emotionally distraught Anna (played by the adorable Sandrine Bonnaire) walked into the quirky tax accountant's office thinking he was a psychologist (played by the amazing Fabrice Luchini), I was eagerly awaiting scene after scene.

One of the most beautiful things about this movie is that it is, in a very classic way, a love story! The unspoken tension builds between Anna and William (the tax accountant) as the film unfolds as Anna's counter transference of emotional burdens shifts to her "therapist." Deep character emotions unlock, personalities bloom and deep seeded character development is ever present throughout the film.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this movie is the above-par acting! Fabrice Luchini has such a face that he seems to capture a thousand emotions simply by staring off into the camera with his bright blue eyes, and Ms. Bonnaire's performance is outstanding as well - her soft, gentle features captivates the audience at once entangling them in her character's life story.

Truly an excellent film well worth seeing for anyone with a heart, treat yourself to "Confidences trop intimes" today!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2005
Anna's spilling her guts to a tax accountant, mistaking his office for that of a therapist down the hall, is rendered understandable when she explains that she gets lost easily, confuses right with left, etc. The accountant can't get a word in edgewise as this woman unloads intimate details of her relationship with her lover; his face undergoes a huge range of befuddled emotions, and suddenly, without him quite realizing how all this could be happening, he find himself confirming an appointment with her for the next week.

Until that day, the accountant's life had been pretty boring, and he expected nothing more. The volatility of Anna's presence, her interest in continuing to use him as a sounding board even after she discovers her mistake, and the attachment that develops between these two `strangers' is funny, touching, and revelatory.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2012
I absolutely loved this casual French movie about a Parisian woman experiencing marital strain. She decides to seek a professional help and accidentaly discloses her personal information to a man who is a tax attorney, not a therapist. As it happens, he also experiences difficulties in his relationship and the two connect on a platonic level. They share their intimate parts of their lives with each other. However, it seems that more that they get to know about each other the more consuming their relationship becomes. Can they cut the cord and create new lives? Their genuine fondness between each other enables them to create a bond that is as strong as it is sincere and true. This is a great movie for those quiet evenings when one just wants to lurk into a story about other peoples lives that sometimes, unexpectedly unfold in the most unexpected ways.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2012
I love that movie and have seen it in Europe some years ago and always wanted it on DVD to share with friends. Bought it now but was disappointed to see that this is a cut version. I must be very wrong and my memory must betray me totally - but there are quite some scenes that my brain filled in which were not in this DVD version.
Somehow at least with the missing scenes in mind the movie seems to lack clearly in suspense and is now a bit jumpy because of it.
Unfortunately it seems there is no DVD version whatsoever available which would be the full movie.
Nevertheless the movie is very good if you haven't seen it uncut yet. So four stars.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is the most nuanced of Patrice Leconte's films that I have seen. Everything is carefully constructed at a measured pace with just enough revelation as we go along, but no more, so that we can follow the plot's development easily. The film is cut as close as a barber's shave and is as neat as a pin.

Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire), who is a bit of a tease, finds herself in what she thinks is a shrink's office. (There's a magazine on the desk whose title is partially obscured so that only the word "analyst" appears to her eyes, thereby confirming her expectations.) Behind the desk however is William Faber (Fabrice Luchini) who is a tax accountant and perhaps the last man in the building who could conceivable help Anna with her marital problem. He is after all something of recluse. He doesn't drive. He usually eats alone in his apartment, which apparently is the same place as his office, watching TV (in one scene it's Humphrey Bogart as Phillip Marlowe with French subtitles). He is only marginally experienced in the ways of human relationships and knows little about psychoanalysis. (The "analyst" magazine on his desk was on economic analysis.)

She flips a zippo cigarette lighter, lights a cigarette like someone new to smoking, and begins to tell a somewhat astonished Faber about the intimate details of her married life, mainly that her husband won't touch her anymore.

I previously saw Bonnaire in La Ceremonie (1995), directed by Claude Chabrol, in which she played a mean, hateful housemaid, and she was very good there. Here she is playful, almost childish at times, as she reveals her life to this stranger.

This is the first time I have seen Luchini who is very properly Parisian in his carefully knotted tie (worn even while preparing his solitary meal). His acting style is markedly laid back. He carries an almost continual look of surprise on his face--astonishment almost--with his eyes made big and round and his demeanor controlled and taciturn.

Because Anna is so direct and begins talking about herself almost immediately and because Faber is a most polite man who will not interrupt her, it is several minutes before he has the opportunity to advise her that she really wants the office down the hall where the psychoanalyst Dr. Monnier holds forth. By then he is intrigued with her and smitten, and is slow, very slow, to advise her of her error.

Also because Anna likes to talk about herself like a teenager and because William Faber is a practiced listener, there is a certain simpatico that automatically develops.

One can see where this is heading. She talks, he listens. She performs, so to speak; he appreciates. Faber is the kind of man, as his "ex" points out, who never makes the first move. This is good for Anna because it allows her to become comfortable with him before she has to respond.

The complications begin with the appearance of Anna's husband who first makes an unusual sexual demand of the very proper tax accountant, and then when that is refused, treats Faber to a most upsetting motel scene through a window across the way. Yes, it's a little contrived (as is the movie's premise). But I like the way Leconte didn't let us see the scene and only revealed later what Faber had seen.

Near the end of the film we see Faber for the first time sans necktie, which we can guess signals a change in the man. The film ends in a most artistic way with a shot from above as Anna lies stretched out on a classic analyst's couch in a cute frock with her ankles crossed and Faber... Well, we see the credits roll down the screen and we can imagine what will eventually happen.

My favorite Leconte film is Ridicule (1996). I also liked his La Fille sur la pont (1999). If you haven't seen his work you are in for a treat. He is witty in a sly way (especially here in Confidence trop intimes) and can be strikingly original. Like all good directors, he never loses track of the audience and the needs of the audience. His films are carefully cut so that we always know what is going on, but without any heavy-handedness.

See this for Patrice Leconte, one of France's most talented film makers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2008
An attractive woman walks into an office she believes to be that of a psychiatrist and proceeds to reveal her innermost secrets to a baffled tax lawyer. Cue conflict, misunderstandings and wary mutual attraction. That's it really, but charmingly done with good performances and just a hint of underlying menace. Those who are afraid to `make the first move' or have ever regretted not doing so may find themselves squirming in identification with the male character. Enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Patrice Leconte is one of my favorite directors, but first time round I found Confidences Trop Intimes little more than a pleasant but disposable diversion despite the promise held by his reunion with his Monsieur Hire star Sandrine Bonnaire. Surprisingly, although slightly disappointing on a first viewing, I found it held up remarkably well on a second viewing.

In some ways a sly reversal of Last Tango, in which two characters meet to talk rather than to screw, the limitations I noticed first time round still hold true: it's more a conceit than a movie, a character piece that never goes anywhere much but holds the interest. Bonnaire, previously not a favorite actress of mine, is increasingly impressive in a superb performance that really does evolve throughout the course of the film, easily outclassing Fabrice Lucini. Always a rather one-note actor, Lucini is at his best here, but the fact that his character is incapable of growth - even the final move is more a change of surroundings than of character and can actually be viewed as a retrograde step - makes him more of a sounding board for Bonnaire than a real focus for the film. Coming across as a somber Eric Idle cross-pollinated with a hesitant Jean-Louis Trintignant, we know everything about him very early in the film, and he is never quite drawn out of his shell enough to ever become genuinely interesting in his own right.

Despite the claustrophobic settings, Leconte never fails to make the film cinematic, his mastery of the Scope frame making what could have just been a chamber piece into a surprisingly rich experience. In many ways he's like Sidney Lumet in his prime in his ability to find a way of making two characters sitting down and talking to each other more cinematic than most directors can make a street scene. Unfortunately, it doesn't amount to much by the time the end credits are rolling. A minor film from a major director, but it's best not to go in expecting too much.
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