This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
Men in the films of Patrice Leconte sometimes find themselves in a kind of paralysis of admiration for women. Consider the hero of "The Hairdresser's Husband," who as a child developed an erotic obsession involving female hairdressers and their rituals and powders, their scents and tools, and now operates a beauty shop simply so that he can gaze in admiration as his wife cuts hair. Or consider "Monsieur Hire," about a mousy little man who becomes aware that he can see into a seductive woman's bedroom across the air shaft from his flat. When she makes it clear she knows he is watching her and doesn't mind, his distance from her is threatened and he is profoundly shaken.
Now here is William Faber (Fabrice Luchini), a quiet, precise middle-aged man who still lives in the flat where he was raised, and carries on the accounting business his father established there. He hasn't gone far from home. Even his father's secretary, Madame Mulon, still works for him. He is a man for whom probity is a cardinal virtue, and revealing passion is unthinkable.
One day a nervous young woman named Anna Delambre (Sandrine Bonnaire) walks into his office, lights a cigarette, and begins to spill the beans. She is so nervous that the camera becomes uneasy, regarding her with jerky little noticing shots. She talks frankly of problems in her marriage. William remains almost motionless behind his desk, his face a study in astonishment and alarm. The few words that he speaks are noncommittal and open-ended.
She thinks he is a psychiatrist. He is not, but doesn't tell her that, and as she continues her visits he ignores the withering stares of Madame Mulon and sits sphinx-like behind his desk, hardly moving a muscle, listening to her story as it grows steadily more strange and, it must be said, more erotic -- so much so you would almost think Anna was trying to arouse the him.