directed by Dominik Moll
France 2005


While Dominik Moll's previous film HARRY, HE'S HERE TO HELP (US title: WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY) has been called Hitchcockian, I think his follow-up is more Lynchian. Alain and Benedicte (HARRY's Laurent Lucas and Jane Birkin's daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg) are the model couple. He works for a home automation company and she is a stay at home wife. One night before dinner with the Alain's boss, Benedicte finds that the sink has stopped up. The boss (UN COEUR EN HIVER's Andre Dussolier) and his wife Alice (Charlotte Rampling who has been redefining her career in French films such as this and Ozon's masterpiece UNDER THE SAND and the lesser SWIMMING POOL) arrive and what follows is a tense dinner in which Alice throws a drink in her cheating husband's face and ridicules the younger couple's aloof manners and picture-perfect marriage. Later that night, Alain unscrews the pipes under the sink and finds a half-drowned rodent as the source of the clog. The next day, Benedicte takes it to the vet the next day and discovers that its a lemming - a Scandanavian rodent not found in France whose supposed penchant for suicide is merely a romantic notion. Alain works late and encounters Alice who tells him her husband tried to kill her once and that the only reason she stays with him is because she wants "to see him croak." Alice comes onto Alain but he rebuffs her (eventually). Alice shows up at their home the next day while Alain is at work. She apologizes to Benedicte for her behavior at dinner but then tells her that she tried to seduce Alain. She then tells Benedicte that she's tired and need to lie down. Benedicte leads her to the spare room and waits for her husband to come home.

To tell you any more beyond this point would really be spoiling things. Masquerading under the guise of a genteel psychological thriller a la Claude Chabrol, LEMMING takes a darker turn with a variation on a theme from VERTIGO by way of David Lynch. The film even looks like a David Lynch film with its physical and internal darkness lurking within rather mundane settings and an ending coda that brings to mind BLUE VELVET (come to think of it, even the appearance of the lemming itself perhaps recalls the worms beneath the grass in the Lynch film's opening). After supporting straight-man turns in Bertrand Bonello's THE PORNOGRAPHER, Leos Carax's POLA X, and Marina De Van's IN MY SKIN, Lucas is great in a lead role that requires a lot of passivity and puzzlement (he seems to have become a French thriller favorite with lead and co-star roles in films like Moll's previous film HARRY, LEMMING scripter Gilles Marchand's WHO KILLED BAMBI?, Fabrice du Welz's CALVAIRE, one of two stars playing a dual role in Bonello's TIRESIA). Rampling is great with her deathmask countenance and cold demeanor. Gainsbourg manages to look both like her mother as well as a younger version of Rampling. Dussolier is also convincing as a generally likable guy capable of great insensitivity. Here, there's no question of a supernatural influence and I only found myself a little disappointed that the ultimate purpose of these happenings was not more ambiguous.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 11 May 2005 (France)

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DVD Review: Strand Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Strand Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 2:04:52 (4% PAL speedup)

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 3.81 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English (burned in)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Strand Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Original Trailer
• Trailers for Other Strand Titles

DVD Release Date: August 15, 2006

Chapters 12




It is unfortunate that Strand Releasing brings us such excellent films in such poor condition. Obviously a PAL-NTSC port, it is anamorphic (unlike their WHO KILLED BAMBI? DVD) but the English subtitles are burned in and the sound mix is 2.0 stereo (the film was mixed in both Dolby Digital and DTS) suggesting a cheap conversion (i.e. recording a PAL disc to NTSC with a disc recorder).  

Other than the ghosting, the picture looks quite nice and the single-layer compression still manages the dark scenes well on a standard TV. There are several scenes that would benefit from the 5.1 mix present on every other DVD of the film. Other than the trailer and trailers for other Strand releases, there are no extras although the French (no English subtitles) and UK DVDs featured interviews and making-of featurettes. Okay for a rental but go for one of the imports for purchase.

 - eric cotenas


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