My Best Friend
(Mon Meilleu Ami)

My Best Friend (Mon Meilleur Ami)
Made in: France
Language: French
Director: Patrice Leconte
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Dany Boon, Julie Gayet

Synopsis: François Coste (Daniel Auteuil) is a divorced, middle aged art dealer. He has sparked the ire of his business partner Catherine (Julie Gayet) by paying an exorbitant price at an auction (with company money) for a rare and massive Greek vase.

Since the artifact was crafted as a tribute to lifelong friendship, Catherine issues François a challenge/ultimatum. In order to keep the vase, François has less than two weeks to prove he has a best friend.

Thinking that he'll win the bet easily, he flips through his long list of business contacts and calls them one by one. Coming to the realization that he is indeed an arrogant, self-centered prick who's disliked by everyone he knows, François starts to worry.

By chance he encounters Bruno (Dany Boon), a talkative, easy-going cab driver with a head full of historical trivia facts and aspirations to compete on game shows. Noticing Bruno's ability to get along with complete strangers, François enlists the cabbie's help in trying to become a friendlier person.

But instead of making friends, François ends up making trouble as the deadline draws near.

The Good: My Best Friend is an entertaining, light-hearted, and in many ways, a moving comedy. Daniel Auteuil does a great job as François by bringing a layered complexity to his character.

Although François is disliked for obvious reasons, his selfishness and arrogance isn't brought about by deliberate means. He's not a jerk because he's evil- he's a jerk because he doesn't know any better. His quest to understand friendship is both sad and funny, but hits home the fact that this basic part of life is so alien to him.

And while making François an individual loathed by the other characters in the film, Auteuil manages to make him likeable to the viewer. With a realistic, "every-man" look, Auteuil projects a natural, subtle charm.

The rest of the cast also gives off this "natural charisma," and if you're feeling particularly insightful you might wonder how much acting talent it takes to play the kind of character that any one of us could encounter on the street in real life.

In addition to the simple but solid buddy storyline, the strongest element of My Best Friend is its down-to-earth look and feel. French film is often caricatured as being pretentious and highly refined, but Patrice Leconte's My Best Friend delivers enough universal appeal while maintaining an aura of class.

The bad: The problem with a straightforward plot is that it runs the risk of being predictable. At times My Best Friend does become formulaic, and it's not hard to guess how most of the important scenes will play out.

Who would like this film: This film's for you if you're in the mood for classy humor. The jokes here revolve around characters and situations, rather than slapstick stuff. Rent it if you plan on staying in to have a relaxing evening at home.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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