DOMINIK MOLL has no use for clich鳬 as he made clear during a recent visit to Seattle. Of With a Friend Like Harry's title character, he says, "I didn't want him to be like De Niro in Cape Fear. That's something I knew I wanted to avoid." Instead of providing an obvious villain, he explains, "What interested me in Harry's character was mostly his sincerity. Everything he does, even if he commits crimes, he does it in a very well-intentioned way. I was interested in the contrast between his intentions and what he actually does."
What about the usual Hollywood practice of spelling out those intentions for the viewer? "I was avoiding it because for me it was not the important thing," answers Moll. "Because the important thing is what Harry brings out in Michel—all his secret compulsions and desires. If I had given a rational explanation of why he acts that way, it would've killed all that." Of Harry's affinity for Michel's poetry, he notes, "That I can't explain. He becomes obsessed with the idea of getting Michel back to writing. You could also probably think that in spite of having all the time and the money he wants, there's something lacking in his life which he wants to fill up with Michel's talent."
Moll prefers to leave both Harry and Michel's characters ambiguous, he continues, because "I also think that it makes the audience more active. They do ask themselves a lot of questions during the film." Giving a ready psychological explanation to Harry's behavior was an option he rejected: "It would make it poorer."
Having rejected a more conventionally bloody path in Harry (which earned him a C鳡r award for his direction), Moll observes, "You see more and more films where the ultimate goal seems to be to make scenes that should be as violent and as shocking as possible. You're shocked when you see it, then you forget it immediately. I prefer to do films where things build up little by little, where the viewer gets drawn into the film little by little." Working within the established suspense genre, he acknowledges, "It's not easy to show something that's not already been done 500 times."