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Dominik Moll
"I wanted to confront two people with totally opposite views on life"
 real 28k

Dominik Moll
"Harry is not a complete bad guy"
 real 28k

Dominik Moll
"Plum's name fits well with what she is - juicy"
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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 10:20 GMT
Harry's Hitchcock tribute
Harry, He's Here to Help
Harry ingratiates himself into the domestic life of his schoolfriend
French thriller Harry, He's Here to Help has been heralded as a highlight of the London Film Festival. As it goes on general UK release, BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas talks to its young director.

Alfred Hitchcock's wickedly creative spirit will be alive and well at the British cinema from this weekend in the unusual guise of the new French thriller Harry, He's Here to Help.

The movie - which goes on general release on 10 November - is the disturbing yet weirdly comic second feature from French/German director Dominik Moll.


Harry believes in doing what you want - he takes everyone's darkest compulsions and makes them frighteningly real

Dominik Moll, director

Moll's haunting tale follows stressed-out parents Michel and Claire who happen upon the mysterious Harry - Michel's long-forgotten classmate.

Harry is a cheery, free spirit who holds a lasting admiration for Michel and the talent he once showed as a writer.

He ingratiates himself with the family. But his subsequent attempts to rid his schoolfriend of everything that is causing him grief take on a terrifying, murderous bent.

Freedom

Deceptively simple in look and feel, the film has been likened to a Hitchcock production for its tightness, tension, quirky black humour and absorbing psychology.

Harry, He's Here to Help
Stressed parents Michel and Claire are swept along by the stranger from the past

Plaudits were showered on Moll, 38, at the Cannes and London film festivals. The film has been sold to 35 countries.

It has also been credited with rekindling interest in homegrown cinema among the Hollywood-infatuated young French.

Moll admits he is more than happy to be likened to his hero Hitchcock - he lists Marnie, Vertigo and Shadow of a Doubt among his favourite films.

But, he adds, any likeness is by chance.

He was inspired by his own experiences of the stresses involved in starting a family.


Everybody has a dark side - a Harry - deep inside

Dominik Moll, director

"I started to ask questions about how children change your life. You love them to bits but suddenly you have no time for yourself," explains Moll.

"My idea was to confront two people who have very different approaches to life and explore everybody's freedom fantasies.

"Michel is bogged down by duty but Harry believes in doing what you want. He takes Michel's - and everyone's - darkest compulsions and makes them frightenly real."

Beguiling

Harry insinuates himself disturbingly into Michel's family life but remains an enigma.

No one knows where he comes from or what he does, but he is infinitely rich.

Harry, He's Here to Help
Harry's girlfriend Plum bears extravagant gifts for the family

His girlfriend is the buxom, curiously named Plum. But then, even Harry's own name is a puzzle - it is hardly heard in France.

Still, for all his oddity, Harry is very beguiling - and much of this charm is down to Sergi Lopez, the Spanish-born actor who plays him.

Lopez is a big star in France and last seen in Liaisons Pornographiques.

But he is mainly known for playing the nice guy. Moll says it was great to be able to offer him a more challenging role.

Harry, He's Here to Help
Things turn sour as Harry gets a little too close for comfort

Lopez's affability was also a crucial part of Moll's designs for Harry himself.

"I wanted people to like Harry - he's not a complete bad guy," the director stresses.

"He is very sincere in what he does because he is disappointed with Michel's life and wants to make it better.

"Ultimately, you can see Harry and Michel as two halves of the same person.

"Everybody has a dark side - a Harry - deep inside. The trick is to learn to balance our impulses with the pressures of everyday life."

Moll's first movie was Intimacy in 1994. It has a similar theme to Harry, focusing on a woman who tries to change her friend's life.

Moll, however, hopes the similarities with his new film end there.

Intimacy flopped - and had a strange effect on at least one person.

"I met an actor who told me he had left his wife after watching my first film.

"I certainly hope no one goes out and starts killing people after this film - I don't want to be held responsible for that."

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