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Lemming (Unrated)

Release Date: May 19th, 2006 (Angelika and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas) by Strand Releasing.
The Cast: Laurent Lucas, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, André Dussollier. Directed by Dominik Moll.
In French with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: A series of strange, chaotic events happen after Alain (Lucas) and Bénédicte (Gainsbourg), a young couple, invite Alain’s boss, Richard (Dussollier), and his wife Alice (Rampling) for dinner in their new home.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Lemming gradually builds suspense and mystery as an intense, character-driven, psychological thriller. The intricately-structured plot begins with relative tranquility as Alain enjoys his job as an engineer at a hi-tech firm and loves his new wife, Bénédicte. Everything changes after a disastrous dinner in his home with Richard, his boss, and his boss’ wife Alice, who leaves in anger. Soon enough, a lemming, a rat-like rodent from all the way in Scandinavia, mysteriously shows up and clogs Alain’s sink. What happens after that point and how the strange—and even supernatural—events affect Alain’s relationship to his wife will not be spoiled here. As usual, Charlotte Rampling gives a very strong performance as Alice. Laurent Lucas, who starred in With a Friend Like Harry…, also gives a convincing performance as Alain, who gradually feels as though he were losing his mind throughout the mysterious ordeal. What truly makes Lemming works as a psychological thriller is how writer/director Dominik Moll masterfully interweaves many interesting plot details that eventually fit neatly into the puzzle without any loose ends. The musical score along with the cinematography occasionally adds a Hitchcockian, chilling atmosphere while never substituting atmosphere for character development. Even though the few twists and surprises in the third act are mostly telegraphed in the second act, it still feels riveting to watch the Alain try to figure out how to bring his life and marriage back to normal.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: For Alain, the line between reality and fantasy gets quickly blurred. Is losing his mind, perhaps? It’s thought-provoking to figure out what the lemmings symbolize in terms of the plot—why and how did they get there? Why lemmings and not rats? What do they foreshadow? Many other interesting questions and foreshadows also come up, especially regarding something Alice says to Alain privately in the beginning of the film.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A few telegraphed surprises in the second act.


IN A NUTSHELL: Spellbinding! A suspenseful, chilling psychological thriller!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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