The International Writers
Directed by Patrice Leconte
Starring Daniel Auteuil, Dany Boon and Julie Gayet,
An artifice, the slightest, flimsiest idea to hang a movie on
Patrice Leconte has made one of my favourite films in the past;
Girl on a Bridge starring Daniel Auteuil and
Vanessa Paradise. A subtle blend of magic realism, good timing
and gallic charm riven with tension and frustration. Sadly
My Best Friend is not remotely in this league, nor his enigmatic
'Hairdresser's Husband' of ten years earlier.
There is another
French movie made in a similar style to 'My Best Friend'. Francois
Verber directed Le Diner de Cons Dinner with Idiots,
an alternating crass and stereotype-ist contraption that was also hysterically
funny as well as cynically cruel. It is about a group of friends who
regularly vie with each other to invite the biggest idiot
to dinner and see who wins each week. Of course the tables are turned
the upper class technocrats whose idea this is are usurped by the wily
earthbound working man who exposes their shallow existence.
My Best Friend is from a similar strand of French culture and
is an utter contrivance. It seems to be made up of the discarded jottings
of Diner au Cons a diluted less barbed version
of the same idea.
This film stars Daniel Auteuil as Francois and Dany Boon as Bruno. The
conceit here is that Francois is a successful antiques dealer who has
no real friends, only clients and other dealers. Even the woman in his
life is a mere convenience and his wife has left him for being so self-centred
and his daughter barely speaks to him or him her.
His business partner bets (a rather sexy lesbian played by Julie Gaynet)
that he cannot produce a genuine best friend within ten days or he loses
a valuable 5th Century Roman vase. Thats it.
Its hard to believe that a man can be so successful and have no
friends (in such a people business) but he accepts the challenge with
enthusiasm. Only it isnt as easy as he thought. Quickly he discovers
that he is in fact detested by everyone he has jotted down on his best
friends list. He is loathed and this is hard to accept.
Francois doesnt seem to drive so he asks his regular taxi driver
Bruno, who seems a friendly sort, to help him. Bruno is one of those
people who accumulate billions of facts and feel compelled to tell people
them, willing to hear or not agrees to help. He can see that our hero
cant recognise a friend when he sees one and needs all the help
he can get. He too is lonely but masks it well. Bruno's main ambition
is to get on a TV knowledge quiz show and win but he suffers from nerves
and can't get selected.
Francois sets out to find old schoolfriends but they too loathed him
and he discovers that he is alone. He so blind, he cannot see that he
has a friend sat right beside him in the shape of the taxi driver. But
then the taxi driver is of a different class and well
an impossible gulf.
Funny, one thinks of France and the guillotine and the abolition of
class warfare and there it is, time and time again in all their movies.
The technocrat class versus the common man.
How Francois the antique dealer finally finds a friend and realises
that he has to change his ways is the meat and potatoes of this thin
comedy. Auteuil pretty much cruises through and you can predict pretty
much every event right through to the phone a friend at
the end of the movie
but hey, it was Saturday night and I still
hadnt recovered from the full horror of Spiderman 3 the
week before, truly one of the worst films ever made. Say what you will
about Patrice Leconte, he knows how to run a little comedy; wring laughs
out of nothing and you at least never have to squirm in your seat with
embarrassment. Its a director and cast going through the motions
but its charming and you will find yourself smiling. A contrivance
perhaps but also a pleasant diversion. See it in the Chelsea Cinema,
the best cinema in London.
Its not a ringing endorsement but I hope he remembers how he made
Girl on a Bridge one day and produces something as good again.
Leconte was born in Paris and studied at l╣Institut des Hautes ╔tudes
Cinematographiques. His feature films include Viens chez moi,
j╣habite chez une copine (81), Monsieur Hire (89), Tango (93), Le
Parfum d╣Yvonne (94), Ridicule (96), Une Chance sur deux (98), La
Fille sur le pont (99), La Veuve de Saint-Pierre (00), L╣Homme du
train (02) and Mon meilleur ami (06).
© Sam North
May 12th 2007
Sam is the Editor of Hackwriters and is the author
of 'Another Place to Die'
a thriller about the upcoming bird-flu pandemic
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- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.