Bogus best buddies
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