Monsieur Hire – Remarkable Movie

We may not understand the French language but at the end of Monsieur Hire (1989) we did understand what fine acting is all about.

Starring Michel Blanc and Sandrinne Bonnaire in key roles, Monsieur Hire is a lovely French movie made all the more remarkable by a fine twist at the end.

Monsieur Hire tells the moving story of a voyeuristic misanthropic tailor – a middle-aged, bald tailor much hated in his apartment complex by both elders and children alike for apparently no reason.

When a a young teenage girl is murdered nearby, Monsieur Hire becomes the No-1 suspect of the police inspector (André Wilms) after a taxi driver sees someone running toward Hire’s apartment building around the time of the murder.

As the police inspector follows him around, Monsieur Hire is drawn into a different drama. He falls in love with Alice (Sandrinne Bonnaire), the object of his voyeuristic fascination and resident of the apartment opposite to his.

Alice’s romantic interests are centered on her unsavory boyfriend Emile (Luc Thuillier) but she is not unreceptive to the tailor’s overtures.

Aware of a dark secret, Monsieur Hire implores Alice to come away with him to a home he has in Lausanne. That scene is one of the two best moments in the movie.

The setting is a dimly-lit corner of a stadium where a boxing bout is going on and Monsieur Hire is begging her in a lengthy monologue to leave everything (including Emile) behind and come away with him to Lausanne and hands her the train ticket:

He isn’t worthy of you. I know he means a lot to you. I can make you forget him. It’s okay if you love him more at first. I’ll be patient…All, I want is for you to smile again. I love it when you do. Alice, I’m a man of my word. I’ll never desert you….

While the above scene was superb, the crowning glory of the movie comes toward the end when Monsieur Hire returns home from the train station and finds Alice and the police inspector in his home.

In one of the most touching scenes we’ve ever seen on the screen, Monsieur Hire, wearing an expression of infinite sadness on his face, says:

You’ll think me a fool, Alice. But I don’t feel any anger. Just a deathly sadness. But never mind, you gave me my greatest joy.

While all of the actors do their job with aplomb, it’s Michel Blanc who steals the show and your sympathy with a virtuoso performance as the misanthropic tailor seeking happiness in Alice.

There’s not a single frame in which Michel Blanc appears that you can’t help admire the considerable acting skills the French actor commands.

Monsieur Hire is a lesson to Bollywood and Kollywood directors that with a fine story and talented actors, you don’t have to run off to Peru (Enthiran), Prague/Namibia (Drona), USA (Sivaji) or Malaysia (Kuruvi) to make a gripping movie.

We’re surprised that our thieving Indian movie-makers have so far failed to steal Monsieur Hire and mutilate it into an ugly clone. Or maybe, they already have and we’re just unaware of it.

It’s when you see movies like Monsieur Hire, you realize what a bunch of buffoons most of our Indian film-makers are. Simply pathetic.

Monsieur Hire is based on the novel by Georges Simenon. 

Oh, we almost to forgot to tell you that Monsieur Hire is directed by Patrice Leconte.

If you live in the U.S., Monsieur Hire is available at the online DVD rental service Netflix. Don’t worry if you can’t follow French because the movie has English subtitles.

One Response to "Monsieur Hire – Remarkable Movie"

  1. shuaib68   October 11, 2008 at 2:48 am

    We take your recommendations and reviews very seriously. I watched “Pan’s Labyrinth” what a wonderful movie it is. The Sweeney Todd is another recommendation of yours which I enjoyed with my family.

    After having enjoyed some of the finest in cinema I became alert and even little bit knowledgeable in selecting a movie to watch for real enjoyment.

    When I compare those fine movies with the bulk of garbage that we’ve been watching for generations out of a cultural habit, I feel very sad about the future of the same industry that is still continues producing them.

    One serious thing they have missed to notice is that, with the advent of Video industry the availability of good and bad movies and its accessibility for the cinema lovers is immense. It has provided and made the movie lovers more quality concious and yearning for more quality.

    So, if somebody is still having an old B&W TV in the 21st century where the technology has improved 1000 folds with gadgets like LCD’s Plasmas with digital tech, then he’s not growing up (Surely stunted).

    I think the Indian cinema “stuff” are somewhat more similar to that. Although, some technical improvements are made in movie making and sound technology. Still the cinemas are made mainly focussed on the fan base and popularity of a strange culture (The Genre). Love Stories are the main feature we find is never changing for ages.

    To make matters worse, they employ plagiarism and give the audience distorted, disfigured and crooked version of the original movie denying the theft. Ethics – forget it.

    I Must see Monsieur Hire if I find it here in Abu Dhabi Lending shops.

    Everyday, the first thing I do is to check your website for any interesting subjects and write a few lines of my opinions and appreciate the work that SI does in helping us to over come our distress.

    But, once in a while I also become too stubborn and notorious as I cannot get over the habit of giving a peep into the garbage bin. I watched Sathyam and had an IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). I confessed to SI about the mistake inspite of all the warnings. Responds:

    1. You write: We take your recommendations and reviews very seriously

    Thank you.

    2. You write above: When I compare those fine movies with the bulk of garbage that we’ve been watching for generations out of a cultural habit, I feel very sad about the future of the same industry that is still continues producing them.

    The good thing is that the Indian audience (both in Mumbai and Chennai) is begining to revolt now. Look at the fate of that crappy movie Drona. It turned out to be a big box office disaster despite the presence of stars like Abhishek Bachchan (one of the worst actors in living memory) and Priyanka Chopra. The same thing happened to Vijay’s Kuruvi.

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