Saturday, July 24, 2010

"My Best Friend" (Language - French) (2006) - Movie Review

Patrice Leconte’s “My Best Friend” would be the last film to expect an ending with “Who wants to be Millionaire?” show but it does and it unfolds with the tense of the game itself with an ending known to everyone. There is an epilogue which completes the film and saving it avoiding my wrath. Leconte’s films focus on two human beings destined to meet each other and acquaint themselves of their differences and emotions. Here there are to “un”sociable fellas, François (Daniel Auteil) and Bruno (Dany Boon).

François is a dealer for antiques and arts. He goes to a client’s funeral. There are barely people and he takes that thought to his group of friends for a dinner conversation. The group of people he thought were friends are mere acquaintances and his business partner Catherine (Julie Gayet) inclusive shoots straight on his face of his inertness and impatience towards the people he meets. And they not alone say that he has no friends but also incapable of one. He is infuriated not because they accuse him for being antisocial but the idea of him not able to do a social task. He calls for a bet with Catherine. There begins his first mistake as later in the film Catherine points out. If he cannot shown them his best friend within 10 days, he would give the ridiculously expensive vase he bought (the obvious irony that it symbolizes friendship) to Catherine and if he does, he keeps it.

François is not detrimental or violent or boorish. He simply disregards people with a classic indifference. He does not react and that poses a question of his true emotions. He has a daughter (Julie Durand) with whom he has managed to have conversations through Catherine. In this midst, he meets taxi driver Bruno. Bruno is full of facts, details and trivia. His life long ambition has been to get into the you-know-it-all contest. He has adorable parents (Jacques Mathou and Marie Pillet) with whom he dines every Sunday and they live on the same street.

While his childhood might have been to win money, now it appears to be something to prove to himself. It might be a channel to let it out as this problem has managed to keep off his existing company of people. Though he is cheerful and has the right conversations with his passengers. His time for keeping interest might be very minimal and before it culminates into a conversation his passengers would not like, the destination is there. François and Bruno are made for each other.

François begins to make a list and that will be the people he would have met twice a year, for business. His top in the list is a competitor in his field and to say that their meeting is a complete debacle will be putting it nicely. François is not villainous or evil rather simply goes through life with no attachments whatsoever. He dislikes people or the pain to like one. His marital status is not surprising. There is a woman in his life whom questions the road they are taking, if it is a road at all. The hunt is secretive and the only person he at least comes close to opening up is Bruno.

Bruno is hired on by François to teach him to be “social”. He asks some of the fundamental questions which everyone looks at him perplexed. How to define a best friend? It comes down to doing and taking the ultimate risk for his compatriot. That is the litmus test says Catherine not able to keep answering this ridiculous question of François. While taking tutorial sessions from Bruno, he realizes that the teacher is the best candidate. He sees it clinically and there lies the blunder of several mistakes. Of course Bruno is not aware of the bet which will be the third act breaker.

“My Best Friend” is a comedy, a very light one but when the hearts are broken it is dealt with the gravity. It is not a band aid act. When Bruno does gets deceived by this whole act and François makes it up to his only friend, they do not patch in a jiffy. It takes a year and some soul searching for François to see who he is and what he has done to the poor man. They do not have to show the one year because Auteil shows in his face and the way he carries himself seeing Bruno.

Daniel Auteil came as the middle aged knife thrower in “Girl on the Bridge” with a certain charm, shadow of grief and loneliness that attracts young women. Here he is a dad, a boss and a man looking for some sensitivity under his skin. He gets it and fails to understand it. He still thinks he is in the game and spoils it. Even in his worst act to win his bet, we do not hate him nor develop sympathy on his inability to understand/respect people. We simply are clueless on how one can be like this and shake our head. Patrice Leconte is the one who can do that and create spiteful characters with charisma and bitter sweet temper. In “My Best Friend” François is the man for that while Dany Boon’s Bruno can be both seen as an adorable man and a boring annoyance. Now that is what I call as a best friend.

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