Patrice Leconte is a masterful director of underwhelmingly perfect movies, and I’ve a feeling that this innocuousness is going to serve him well in the American market, though it doesn’t appear he’ll have much, if anything, to do with Hilary Swank’s remake of Intimate Strangers, which, by the way, was even more inconsequential than The Man on the Train and The Girl on the Bridge combined. You’ve seen these movies, right?
As with most of Leconte’s movies, Intimate Strangers boasts a spiffy hook: a woman arrives at an apartment building to see her new therapist and accidentally wanders into the office of a tax accountant, where she begins confessing her deepest secrets. The tax accountant, totally into having an attractive chick spill the details of her sexually unfulfilling marriage, keeps the charade going against his better judgment. As is typical of Leconte, he writes away from cliché but fails to excite the audience with the deftness of his plotting. In the interest of being glib, watching a Leconte film is a lot like watching a proficient hitter take batting practice and then leaving before the game starts.
So, in a sense, there’s room for improvement, but Hollywood ain’t exactly in the habit of upgrading French films (though I’m sure there’s someone ready to throw down for Jim McBride’s Breathless), and I’m not sure Hilary Swank is the producer to break that tradition. As an actress, she’s obviously one of the best of her generation hype be damned, but her behind-the-camera efforts have thus far been a bit unambitious (e.g. Freedom Writers and Beautiful Ohio), which isn’t an encouraging trait for someone attempting to breathe life into a film from the Gallic King of Self-Satisfaction. Since she’s currently working on P.S., I Love You, her second film with Richard LaGravanese, a smart writer who’s also gone creatively limp of late, I’ll assume that he’s at the top of her list to write and direct. When he doesn’t get the gig, you can call me nasty things on the message board. But I’m going to gamble on your caring even less than me who gets the call to develop a movie neither of us will ever pay to see.