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May 2006

Lemming Review

By Kam Williams

Lemming Review

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Distributor: Strand Releasing
Director: Dominik Moll
Screenwriter: Gilles Marchand, Dominik Moll
Starring: Laurent Lucas, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, André Dussollier, Jacques Bonnaffé, Michel Cassagne, Florence Desille, Emmanuel Gayet, Nicolas Jouhet, Fabrice Robert
In French with subtitles
Running time: 129 minutes
   

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Intriguing Psychological Thriller Presents French Couples Confronting Infidelity

Alain Getty (Laurent Lucas) is a brilliant young inventor who was transferred to Toulouse by his company to work on perfecting his tiny, remote-controlled surveillance camera which can fly through the air and over anywhere you direct it. For a few months now, he and his wife of three years, Benedicte (Charlotte Gainsbourg), have been happily adjusting to their new life in a modest townhouse in suburban subdivision known as Bel Air. Everything changes the day that Alain's boss, Richard Pollock (Andre' Dussollier) invites himself and his spouse (Charlotte Rampling) over for dinner. First, the couple arrives inexplicably late, although they live just across town in a relatively upscale section of the city called Beaumont Park. Next, Mrs. Pollock sits down at the dinner table still sporting her dark sunglasses.

With the atmosphere thick enough to cut with a knife, Alice breaks the awkward silence by sharing the reason for their tardiness, namely, her husband's being with a whore. She then throws her glass of wine in his face, at which point Richard stands and announces, "We're leaving!"The flabbergasted Gettys simply sit there stunned, watching their rude guests misbehave. But Alice misreads Benedicte's open-mouthed reaction as disapproval, and sneers, "Don't give me that snotty look! You're pathetic!" This scene sets the taut tone which permeates Lemming, a mind-bending adventure by German director Dominick Moll (Intimacy). Suspenseful and surreal, it is perhaps most reminiscent of Swimming Pool, another inscrutable psychological thriller starring Charlotte Rampling.

Here, Rampling turns in another sensational performance, this as an embittered and unpredictable post-menopausal woman desperate to prove herself still desirable, even if it means throwing herself at her husband's employee. Thus, it's no surprise that her character shows up to try to seduce Alain in his lab on a night when she knows he'll be keeping late hours and working there all alone.

"You can do what you want with me," she propositions him bluntly. "I won't be shocked." Alice might not be shocked, but anyone who watches this flick unfold unspoiled without any idea of what's in store next is certainly in for a bundle of supernatural surprises. Will Alain cheat with the boss' wife? How could crossing this line complicate his life or hers?

Hell still hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Excellent (4 stars)