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Lemming

A Chat about Lemming

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Lemming

Charlotte Rampling in Lemming

Jürgen: I thought we could try to chat about Lemming because it's one of those films I find frustrating to review traditionally--you don't want to give anything away, so what can you say?

Marcy: I loved it.

Jürgen: I loved it, too.

Marcy: It's difficult to provide even a bare bones plot summary because a crucial event happens early in the film. I mean I was shocked. I certainly would not want to ruin that moment for anyone else.
Jürgen: One of the best things about reviewing movies is that you get to see them untouched by hype or spoilers. We rarely know exactly what we're in for when we go to screenings.

Marcy: I had a similar reaction to Moll's first film, With a Friend Like Harry. As a director, Moll is a master of building suspense.

Jürgen: Yes. His films are domestic horror. He starts with an awkward social situation--here, it's an uncomfortable dinner--and then ratchets up the tension until it finally turns violent or goes into surprising directions. The last thing you want to do is tell somebody what's going to happen; it defuses the entire thing. So what else can we say except, everybody should go and see Lemming?

Marcy: We can talk about the marvelous casting. The two Charlottes, for instance: Charlotte Rampling and Charlotte Gainsborg.

Jürgen: Lemming shares a lot of similarities with Michael Haneke's Cache. Both films have these perfect French couples living in their perfect homes, leading perfect lives, and suddenly something unsettling happens. In Cache, it's the strange video tapes and threatening drawings. In Lemming, it's Charlotte Rampling.

Marcy: She has a way of wearing sunglasses inside that is incomparable.
Jürgen: As the boss's wife from hell, she's supremely creepy. Corrosive is the word, really. "What do you do when it all turns sour?" she asks, and you can see that Charlotte Gainsbourg didn't worry about that before. Now she will.

Marcy: Gainsbourg looks surprisingly innocent, almost bland in her prettiness, when the film starts. That doesn't last. Are we allowed to talk about the lemming?

Jürgen: I was just going to ask you that.

Marcy: It is the title of the film.

Jürgen: It's the thing that kicks off the plot, so I think it's fair game. Laurent Lucas, who plays the confident and successful model husband, finds this dying rodent in the plumbing, and it sets off what the press kit calls "pandemonium."

Marcy: Nobody likes rodents. Lucas also starred in Harry, and he's so bloody polite in both films. Sometimes I wanted to shake him.

Jürgen: Well, that's the impulse behind Charlotte Rampling's character, isn't it? She shakes him up pretty good.

Marcy: Yes, he tells you this. Early in the film, in a voice-over, he says, when my boss and his wife came over for dinner, that was when it all started going downhill.
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  7. Lemming - A Review of Dominik Moll's Film

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