Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Most audiences were introduced to Sergi López’s insinuations and iniquity in Pan’s Labyrinth, where he played a fascist caving in innocents’ faces and dreams.
Long before that, López expertly inhabited a life coach/arts patron using death as motivation in 2000’s With a Friend Like Harry …
Dominik Moll’s French-language, evil-interloper thriller never boiled over into ludicrous stalker-movie action and surpassed shock-schlock tactics of something like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.
Fill in the title with “who needs family?,” and that’s a good indication of how Harry dove into — but didn’t easily resolve — the strangely symbiotic muse relationship at its core.
Being a family man has become rock-breaking routine for Michel (Laurent Lucas) — all sick kids, yard work and emergency repairs he can’t even escape while on holiday.
It’s then that Michel runs into Harry (López) — a high-school chum who’s ingratiating, wealthy, accompanied by a buxom-ditz girlfriend and representative of the unencumbered freedom Michel lacks. López’s Harry is tremendously unsettling from the get-go — his calm an anesthetic to reopen old wounds.
Enamored of Michel’s writing (which he long ago abandoned), Harry addresses Michel’s indecisive apathy — a perilous patronage Harry expects to be wickedly repaid.
It seems Harry would do anything to restore the competitive nature of a boy who once knocked his teeth in. It’s easy to wonder why, but less important than what Harry wants is Moll’s sardonic, satiric point: Evil can be just as banal as everyday life, and Harry intriguingly explores that with nasty wit rather than brutish violence.