Bo­gus best bud­dies

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - MICHAEL DWYER

MY BEST FRIEND/ MON MEILLEUR AMI Di­rected by Pa­trice Le­conte. Star­ring Daniel Au­teuil, Dany Boon, Julie Gayet 12A cert, Cineworld, IFI, Dublin, 95 min

OS­CAR Wilde de­scribed a cynic as a man who knows the price of ev­ery­thing and the value of noth­ing. In My Best Friend the prin­ci­pal char­ac­ter, François (Daniel Au­teuil), is an ar­ro­gant an­tiques dealer whose cyn­i­cism is il­lus­trated at the out­set when he at­tends the funeral of a ri­val to ne­go­ti­ate a deal on pe­riod furniture.

François knows the value of his mer­chan­dise, yet is will­ing to risk in­cur­ring debts for his firm when a Greek vase is on auc­tion and he, in the man­ner of cer­tain film dis­trib­u­tors, pays over the odds to out­bid a com­peti­tor. While François ex­hibits a keen ap­pre­ci­a­tion of an­tiques, he is too smugly self-ab­sorbed to place any value on friend­ship.

At din­ner with col­leagues and ac­quain­tances, he is shocked to re­alise that none of them re­ally likes him and that he has no friends. When he de­fen­sively de­nies this, his busi­ness part­ner (Julie Gayet) chal­lenges him with a wa­ger whereby he can keep the Greek vase if he can pro­duce a true friend.

The movie’s hu­mour is sharp and not a lit­tle cruel as François suf­fers sev­eral hu­mil­i­a­tions on this quest, as when, in des­per­a­tion, he tracks down a fel­low stu­dent from school­days. Mean­while, he has a fate­ful en­counter with Bruno (Dany Boon), a lo­qua­cious taxi driver who is dis­arm­ingly friendly and spouts reams of ephemeral in­for­ma­tion.

Pa­trice Le­conte, the di­rec­tor of such dark movies as Mon­sieur Hire and The Hair­dresser’s Hus­band, sets and sus­tains a breezy pace in this light, en­gag­ing se­ri­ous com­edy that de­liv­ers some en­ter­tain­ing sur­prises be­fore its res­o­lu­tion.

It is the third Le­conte movie to star the pro­lific Au­teuil, who ev­i­dently rel­ishes play­ing such an es­sen­tially un­sym­pa­thetic char­ac­ter, and the chem­istry sparks be­tween him and Boon (last seen here in Joyeux Noël) who plays Bruno with en­dear­ing open­ness and en­thu­si­asm.

Re­fresh­ingly, the movie avoids adopt­ing a moral­is­ing tone, al­though that’s likely to sur­face in the in­evitable US re­make fea­tur­ing, no doubt, Robin Wil­liams and his trem­bling up­per lip.

Scarf pa­rade: Dany Boon and Daniel Au­teuil forge a friend­ship of con­ve­nience in My Best Friend

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