American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Monsieur Hire's life is organized with the extreme precision of a man who fears that any deviation from routine could destroy him. He lives alone in a neatly ordered room, where everything has its place.
He dresses carefully and conservatively and goes out every day to work by himself in a small office in the town, where he operates a mail-order business. He comes home to his dinner of a hard-boiled egg.
He listens to the same piece of music, over and over. He speaks to people only to observe the formalities: "Good morning." "Nice day." His sexual life is equally precise. Hour after hour, he stands in his darkened room, looking across the small courtyard of his building into the window of a young woman who lives directly opposite, and one floor below. She never pulls her shades. He watches her dress, undress, read, eat, listen to the radio, make love. Hour after hour.
Another young woman is found dead in the neighborhood - her body cast aside in an overgrown vacant lot. Who committed the crime? There are no suspects, but in this neighborhood a man like Monsieur Hire always is a suspect. He has no friends, no associations, no "life." The neighbors have marked him out as peculiar. To look at him, you would think it was absurd that he could kill anyone. But suspicion begins to grow.