The Valet (La Doublure) Made in: France Language: French Director: Francis Veber Starring: Gad Elmaleh, Alice Taglioni, Daniel Auteuil, Kristen Scott Thomas, Virginie Ledoyen, Danny Boon, Richard Berry Year: 2006
Synopsis: Heartbroken François Pignon (Gad Elmaleh) is a humble valet whose marriage proposal to childhood friend Emilie (Virginie Ledoyen) was promptly rejected.
While sulking on the street, and by chance, François ends up in the background of a picture snapped by a tabloid photographer. The photographer was actually focusing on billionaire business mogul Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil), who was having a heated argument with his supermodel mistress Elena (Alice Taglioni).
When Pierre's sharp wife, Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), threatens a very costly divorce, he hatches a scheme to contradict the gossip headline. Pierre tracks down François, and pays him and Elena to live together (and appear as a couple) in the hopes of covering up his cheating.
Whereas Elena is motivated by greed at first, François, who still has feelings for Emilie, wants only enough money to help Emilie pay off a hefty business loan so the bookstore she just opened can remain in operation.
But the simple plot has unintended consequences for all as jealousy, revenge plots, hidden feelings, and misunderstandings lead to a series of comedic situations that drive everyone close to wit's end.
The Good: The Valet is a very smart romantic comedy about greed, lust, jealousy, infidelity, and other things that are hilarious as long as they're happening to someone else. As with most foreign films I've been through, the cast in this one is terrific. Gad Elmaleh is a sympathetic under-dog, and his roommate Richard (Dany Boon) has a small but effective role as the dopey best friend.
Alice Taglioni comes across more than just a greedy mistress, and adds to the comedy with a character that's more substantive than we're led to believe at first. And of course, Daniel Auteuil delivers plenty of entertainment as he has in director Francis Veber's other works.
The convoluted story unfolds at the perfect pace, and offers plenty of laughs and comic twists. The plot doesn't spiral out of control and wraps up in just under ninety minutes.
The Bad: Just a minor plot point this time around- I'm not sure how Daniel Auteuil's character was able to track down François so quickly. But in light of everything else that happens, it's not a glaring oversight.
Who would like this movie: The Valet is for you if you like romantic comedies. This is on par with anything that comes from Hollywood, but the movie has a sophisticated edge that'll make it seem like a breath of fresh air if you haven't seen many foreign films. It's a light and very entertaining feel-good movie that's cute without being overly sweet.