4 September 2005 | dbdumonteil
The onset of "Lemming" is catchy but then it gets bogged down in oil slick
In 2000, Dominik Moll had introduced us Harry in "With a Friend Like Harry" (2000), a charismatic and mysterious character admirably acted by Sergi Lopez who by wishing Michel's well had managed to break his peaceful household although it was a bit on the edge on a knife. Five years later, he returned to the attack with the long-anticipated "Lemming" starring once again Laurent Lucas. This time it's not one person who is nasty to him but two offbeat people: André Dussollier and Charlotte Rampling. There's a major difference with Moll's previous opus: "Lemming" doesn't match "With a Friend Like Harry"'s brilliance at all because it's too woolly, incoherent to hold water whereas the former work was absolutely clear in its script and didn't present the single mistake in its logical way of thinking.
The movie promises great things but loses steam halfway through. It gets off to a good start with a Chabrolian aura to let the vices of a seemingly well-behaved and respectable upper-class couple show through. Even better, Moll has the capacity to create from a trite situation an ominous atmosphere which makes the viewer feel uncomfortable. Is there anything more trite than a dinner with one's boss? But when Rampling asks Dussollier the following question: "Was it one of your b******?", a feeling of unpleasantness invades the viewer and stays inside him or her until the middle of the film. And an eerie Charlotte Rampling excels in a part which requires ambiguity, mystery. Her motivations towards Lucas and her frail spouse Charlotte Gainsbourg remain undetermined: does she try to put an end to their love life or isn't she prey to madness? And one could also specify that her husband as weird as her tries to make life impossible to Lucas. Perhaps, he try to split them too. Be that as it may, after this memorable evening, the movie takes the way of the fantastic and one figures that we have a first-class movie between one's hands. The making evolutes on the razor's edge, the unusual nature of the movie is slowly and softly hatched, the relationships between the characters become blurred, the strangeness of the situations alarm...
Alas, in the middle of the course, it's downhill and the attention ends up diluting itself in the ins and outs of a convoluted and tortuous story à la David Lynch and the protagonists' psychological drifts remove the flick all charm and all cohesion. Because it wants too much, "Lemming" loses its efficiency and the whole crew loses the plot. Moll's work is also marred by a cosy end which takes the easy way.
If "With a Friend Like Harry" occupies a prominent place in my favorite movies made in 2000, "Lemming" has a prime place in the category of the dashed hopes of 2005. If you are a David Lynch buff, this one has your name on it and for the others: caution!