Lemming (film)


Theatrical poster
Directed by Dominik Moll
Produced by Dominik Moll
Written by Gilles Marchand
Dominik Moll
Starring Laurent Lucas
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Charlotte Rampling
André Dussollier
Jacques Bonnaffé
Véronique Affholder
Music by David Whitaker
Cinematography Jean-Marc Fabre
Edited by Mike Fromentin
Distributed by Diaphana Films
Release dates
  • 11 May 2005 (2005-05-11)
Running time
129 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget €5.3 million[1]
Box office $800,000[1]

Lemming is a 2005 French psychological thriller film directed by Dominik Moll and starring André Dussollier, Charlotte Rampling, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Laurent Lucas. It was entered into the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.[2]


Alain Getty (Lucas) is a Home Automation Engineer who accepts a job in the south of France to work on a small camera drone in a technology company owned by Richard Pollock (Dussollier). With his wife Bénédicte (Gainsbourg), a former pharmaceutical sales representative and now a housewife, he moves to a suburb of Toulouse.

After three months, Richard (Dussollier) invites himself and his wife Alice (Rampling) to dinner at Alain's house. They arrive late and create a scene with their marital problems and Alice is despicably rude to Bénédicte.

Things go downhill from there, beginning with Alain's discovery of an unconscious rodent lodged in the S-bend of the kitchen sink. When Alain pulls the animal out of the S-bend, it seems lifeless, but revives later. Bénédicte takes it to a veterinarian, who identifies it with some surprise as a lemming, a Scandinavian animal that does not live in France in the wild.

The next evening Alice visits Alain, who is working late, at his office. She tells him that Richard had once tried to kill her and that the only reason she was still with him is her desire to see him die. She then attempts to seduce the much younger Alain, who resists her advances. Alain doesn't tell Bénédicte about the incident.

Alice turns up at the Gettys' house in the day time, where Bénédicte is alone. Alice alludes to having had sex with Alain, then says she feels tired. Bénédicte shows her the guest bedroom, where she creates a mess and eventually shoots herself. Bénédicte feels a strange urge to spend the night in the guestroom where Alice committed suicide.

Despire Alice's death, Richard and Alain go on a business trip to Biarritz the next day. On the drive there, Alain asks Richard if it was true that he had attempted to kill his wife. In return, Richard asks Alain if he and Alice had sex, which he denies.

In the evening, Alain calls Bénédicte, who at first doesn't answer the phone and then rudely abuses him. Worried by his wife's behaviour, Alain decides to drive home immediately, although it is late and he is tired. Upon his arrival, he finds Bénédicte fast asleep and is unable to wake her. He hears strange noises coming from the kitchen, discovers it is full of lemmings, and faints.

Alain wakes up in a hospital; he had had an accident after falling asleep at the wheel and the episode in the kitchen apparently was a dream he had while unconscious.

Upon Alain's release from hospital, he and Bénédicte spend some time at Richard's idyllic lakeside holiday chalet. Bénédicte's behaviour continues to be strangely cold and arrogant. Bénédicte asks Alain why he hadn't told her about Alice's attempt to seduce him. Strangely, Bénédicte recites the exact words Alice had used on that night, although she couldn't have possibly known them. She even asks Alain to call her "Alice". The couple have sex and Alain falls asleep.

When he wakes up, he finds Bénédicte and their car gone. Alain hitches a ride home, where it turns out that Bénédicte started an affair with Richard while he was in the hospital and is about to move into his house. Using the camera drone he had been working on, Alain observes Richard's house where he finds Bénédicte as expected. Just as Richard and Bénédicte are about to have sex, the camera fails. It appears that Alice's spirit has taken control of Bénédicte and that Alice resumed her old life at Richard's side inside Bénédicte's body.

In the meantime, the vet who Bénédicte had left the lemming with returns the animal to Alain's house in a cage. Returning home from observing Richard's house, Alain lets it out of the cage; the lemming bites him and disappears somewhere in the house.

The next day, Richard confronts Alain in his office and shows him the pieces of the camera drone which he found in the garden. In the evening, Alain wakes up in his living room to find "Alice-Bénédicte" sitting across from him. She offers Alain a deal: If he kills Richard, he would get back Bénédicte. She gives Alain the key to Richard's house and leaves.

That night Alain lets himself into the Pollocks' house with the key, where he notices some photographs of a young Alice that show a striking resemblance to Bénédicte. Alain finds Richard and "Alice-Bénédicte" asleep in the bedroom, where he smothers Richard with a pillow while "Alice-Bénédicte" silently looks on.

Alain carries Richard's body to the kitchen, where he manipulates the coffee-machine and the gas stove. "Alice-Bénédicte" follows him to the car in a trance-like state. Back at the Gettys' house, "Alice-Bénédicte" goes straight to bed. When she wakes up, she is Bénédicte again—she says she dreamt of Alice, but doesn't seem to remember anything of the events of the recent days.

The next day being a Saturday, Alain doesn't go to work. Instead, they are spending time in their garden as if nothing at all had happened, when they receive a phone call about Richard's apparent suicide by causing a gas explosion in his house. Bénédicte innocently asks Alain if he believes Richard committed suicide because of his wife's death. She then discovers the dead lemming and throws it away. The mystery of its origin is resolved by Alain in a voice over: Their neighbours' son had brought the animal from a family holiday trip to Finland; his upset father then flushed it down the toilet. Finally, Alain mentions that Bénédicte is pregnant.



The film is generally well received by critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 71% approval rating, based on 48 reviews, with an average score of 6.7/10. The site's consensus reads, "A creepy psychological thriller, with superb performances and natural tension flowing from every frame, Lemming is a worthy successor to Dominik Moll's With A Friend Like Harry".[3] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 65, based on 16 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[4]


Award / Film Festival Category Recipients and nominees Result
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Nominated
César Awards Best Supporting Actress Charlotte Rampling Nominated
European Film Awards People's Choice Award for Best Actress Charlotte Rampling Nominated


  1. 1 2 "Lemming". JP's Box-Office.
  2. "Festival de Cannes: Lemming". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
  3. "Lemming (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  4. "Lemming". Metacritic.

External links

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