An unhappily married woman (Sandrine Bonnaire) enters the office of a psychiatrist for the first time, and immediately starts spilling her darkest sexual secrets to the man behind the desk. The problem: she's unwittingly wandered into the office of a tax accountant (Fabrice Luchini) instead. Even though the accountant eventually comes clean - after at least one more visit under false pretenses - the woman keeps seeing him, happy to find an eager listener. The shy accountant is equally happy to have such an interesting, beautiful woman add some intrigue to his humdrum life.
Those who have seen any of Patrice Leconte's previous work (The Man on the Train, The Hairdresser's Husband, The Girl on the Bridge, etc.) will find themselves in familiar territory: Leconte has carved himself a niche as a teller of stories about odd couples, eccentrics from different worlds who meet by chance and who each find that they need the other's quirks to fill the empty spaces in their lives.
Intimate Strangers is a bit more talky, claustrophobic, and flat than Leconte's earlier films - the bulk of the story takes place in the accountant's office - but it's intelligent adult fare that will surely win the director more fans.
As for me, I must admit that I just didn't get it. Sure, it's easy to understand the film's premise: these two characters find a sort of bond by mimicking the intimacy inherent in the therapist-patient relationship. But a great deal of vague, delicate details were simply lost on me - not from a structural standpoint, but from an experiential one. I likened it to being in a crowded room where everybody is speaking a language that you don't know: body language may help you grasp the general context, but you're still missing out on all the wit and nuance. I'm not being literal here, of course: there are English subtitles throughout Intimate Strangers. But well-translated as they are, they couldn't convey the full scope of the film's ideas to me. Call me stupid.