Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 31
 
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.


BUT I'VE GOT HUNDREDS OF FRIENDS!: Successful antique dealer Francois (Daniel Auteuil, left) doesn't believe it when his business partner Catherine (Julie Gayet) frankly tell him that he doesn't have any friends.

My Best Friend: The Latest French Farce From Legendary Patrice Leconte

Kam Williams

Over the years, Patrice Leconte has become quite adept at plumbing the depths of the human psyche by placing two people with little or nothing in common into an emotionally explosive predicament. In Intimate Strangers (2004), it was an unhappily married woman who started sharing confidences with a tax attorney whom she mistook for her new psychotherapist.

The Man on the Train (2002) paired a straitlaced professor with a bank robber whom he befriended at a pharmacy. Girl on the Bridge (1999) revolved around the relationship of a 21-year-old woman and the middle-aged circus performer who talked her out of committing suicide. You get the idea.

With My Best Friend, the Oscar-nominated director (for Ridicule) presents another fascinating double character study starring Daniel Auteuil as Francois, an arrogant antique dealer who's phenomenally successful; however, nobody likes him. When Catherine (Julie Gayet), his business partner, points this out to Francois, he claims that he has plenty of friends.

Skeptical, she challenges him to produce his best friend by the end of the month or else surrender possession of his prized Greek vase. Francois immediately accepts the dare, but soon finds that ten days might not be enough time, since none of his acquaintances considers him a friend.

After being rejected by everyone, including a longtime client, a grade school classmate, and even the people he encounters at a friendship seminar, he attempts to manipulate Bruno (Dany Boon), his regular cab driver, into helping him win the bet. My Best Friend is an intriguing farce set in and around Paris, often as seen from the perspective of a taxi rider.

A destitute Bruno, who dreams of changing his fortune by winning a million francs on a TV game show, maintains an upbeat demeanor despite the fact that his wife recently left him for another man. He gladly tells Francois his secret of why he's liked by all his customers and everyone else whom he meets, namely, the three S's, being sociable, smiling, and sincere.

Sadly, Francois can't take this advice to heart, but only sees his cheery chauffeur as a naïve, lower class loser whom he can exploit. This doesn't bode well for Francois's hopes of holding on to his cherished vase when he tries to pass off Bruno as his best friend during the denouement. A satisfying, cinematic masterpiece with an invaluable message about the meaning of real relationships.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG-13 for strong profanity. In French with subtitles. Running time: 95 minutes Studio: IFC Films.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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