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  My Best Friend

Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Dany Boon, Julie Gayet, Julie Durand, Jaques Mathou

Directed by: Patrice Leconte

Produced by: Marc Missionnier, Olivier Delbosc

Written by: Patrice Leconte & Jerome Tennorre (screenplay), Olivier Dazat (story)

Distributor: IFC Films


     I have not experienced a more wonderfully jubilant film than Patrice Leconte’s My Best Friend all year, but this fact unfortunately seems to depress me more than uplifts me. Said depression has nothing to do with the content of the film—after all, it is one of the best I have seen all year—but rather concerns the realization that the average American will never see (let alone hear of) the picture. Sure, this may be the case with dozens and dozens of delightful foreign releases that, every year, open to dazzling reviews but never measure up at the box office. But there’s something about My Best Friend’s frothy wholesomeness and charming candor that makes it the ideal summer picture. After having to endure the overwrought struggles of pirates in search of treasure and the moral dilemmas of a certain teenage wizard in order to squeeze any amount of “fun” out of my Beach Season multiplex experiences, it was a pleasant surprise for me to be able to so effortlessly enjoy such a gem of a film. What a letdown to know that the casual filmgoer will never be able to embrace the simple joys of My Best Friend’s compassionate characters and witty dialogue due to the film’s lack of commercial exposure.

     Veteran French actor Daniel Auteuil plays Francois, a stone-faced antiques-dealer whose only real passion in life is his work. One night, when at dinner with his colleagues, Francois’ business partner Catherine (Julie Gayet) realizes that Francois has no real friends. Francois naively denies Catherine’s realization and, at this, she dares him introduce her to who he considers his best friend. The two make a bet: if Francois cannot come up with this best friend in ten days, he will owe Catherine the €200,000 Greek vase he acquired on company-dollar` during the afternoon prior.

     As he becomes increasingly discouraged by ruffling through his address book and unsuccessfully trying to reconnect with long-lost acquaintances, Francois constantly finds himself being consoled by his regular cab-driver, the amiable and sociable Bruno (Dany Boon). Bruno, an everyman who spends his spare time indulging in massive quantities of random trivia, begins to teach Francois how to forge friendships. Before long, the two have become friends themselves, and Francois finally begins to understand why this type of bond is so highly valued.

     On paper, My Best Friend may sound like either A) a sappy lecture on the importance of human relationships or B) a strange, existentialist French film about male-bonding. Thanks to the deft hand of versatile director Leconte, the movie never ventures into either territory. Leconte recognizes the fact that Francois is a bit of an asshole, and at first makes a jovial mockery of him as he pathetically tries to find a best friend. In fact, My Best Friend takes on a rather limited amount of literal qualities: it’s a wild farce that just so happens to have a warm heart and deep understanding of its characters’ emotions. Francois’ isolated personality is often used as a simple tool to create some very funny laughs, but this is beautifully balanced by the themes pertaining to the nuanced friendship that the character develops with Bruno. The film is unexpectedly charming in the way that is able to simultaneously manipulate its characters and allow them to naturally progress and interact.

     Not to mention, if all of that wasn’t enough, the movie has one of the craziest, most daring, swing-for-the fences third-act finales I’ve ever seen. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that it contains a just downright loopy depiction of the French version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” that is unlike anything else the silver-screen will ever showcase. Like the rest of My Best Friend, the sequence is lovable and spirited.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 8.6.2007

Screened on: 8.4.2007 at the Landmark Hillcrest in San Diego, CA.


My Best Friend is rated PG-13 and runs 94 minutes.

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