Catherine (Gayet), refuses to believe that her business partner, the unlikeable François (Auteuil), has a best friend, so she challenges him to set up an introduction. Scrambling to find someone willing to pose as his best... more » pal, François enlists the services of a charming taxi driver (Boon) to play the part.« less
From director Patrice Leconte and actor Daniel Auteuil, a sw
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 08/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Oh no, not another winsome human comedy about life-lessons and friendship. Buy a movie ticket or the DVD anyway. In the hands of director Patrice Leconte and actors Daniel Auteuil and Dany Boon, My Best Friend turns out to be not just a charming, sweet-natured fable, but a well-told and well-acted one. Francois Coste (Auteuil) co-owns a Paris gallery, has a great-looking apartment, seems estranged from his college-going daughter, knows many people in the business and has just impulsively bought at auction a very expensive Greek vase. One thing Coste lacks are any friends. Oh, he has plenty of business acquaintances, is reasonably cordial most of the time, but also, we notice, is somewhat distant to everyone he knows. He can talk antiques engagingly but he doesn't seem to really notice much about the people he talks to. When he gets in over his head financially with the purchase of the vase, his smart, good-looking partner is irritated. Francois has never even noticed that she likes women and has a partner of her own. She makes a bet with him. He has ten days to prove he has a best friend...or she gets the vase. Francois is smugly confident, until the people he adds to his list of friends begin telling him the truth. And then he meets a cabdriver, Bruno Bouley (Boon). Bruno likes people, listens to them, talks to them and has a great passion for odd facts. He wants to be on a television quiz program. People seem naturally to like Bruno. When Francois realizes he has no friends, real friends, the kind you can call up at 3 a.m. or who will do whatever it takes to come to your assistance if you need help, he decides to have Bruno teach him how to make friends. It doesn't work out quite the way Francois expects, or the way we expect, at least not till the very end of the movie.
Sweet-natured the movie is. Both Francois and Bruno learn some lessons that hurt, Bruno first and then Francois. That the story eventually works out for all concerned is no spoiler. We've smiled some, teared up a little, and left the movie house feeling well pleased and satisfied. We also ask ourselves, this is a Patrice Leconte film, from the man who has given us such exceptional movies as Mr. Hire (1989), Man on the Train (2002), Ridicule 1996) and The Widow of Saint-Pierre (2000)? It is, and My Best Friend is an amusing vacation from angst and irony and drama. It's a thoroughly enjoyable movie.
The two actors who make it work so well, of course, are Auteuil and Boon. They play off each other with great skill and authenticity. Auteuil is practically a French national treasure. Along with his contemporary Gerard Depardieu, the two have just about dominated French acting by male leads. Neither of them has conventional leading man looks, but both can play anything, from tragedy to comedy, from fools to heroes, and both can either dominate a movie or fade back into being one of the cast. Compare the versatility of Auteuil: Contemporary high drama in Cache (2005) and La Separation (1994), rollicking sword-play and romance in Le Bossu (1997), tragedy in The Widow of Saint Pierre (1994) and hopeless, dull-witted ineptitude in Jean de Florette and, especially, Manon of the Spring (both 1986).
Mon Meilleur Ami is an easy-going, charming movie about friendship and even love. "There is no love, just the tests for love;" no, "There are no tests for love, just love." Both make sense. That's why this movie works. Le Bossu [Region 2] Cache (Hidden) The Widow of Saint-Pierre La Separation Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring (MGM World Films)"
Mon meilleur film!
Jean E. Pouliot | Newburyport, MA United States | 09/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""My Best Friend" could have been maudlin (in the hands of a less talented foreign director) or irritatingly over-the top (in he hands of a less talented American director. Instead it is a believable and charming look at friendship in the 21st century, and the lengths to which some will go to get it.
Francois Coste (Daniel Auteuil) is a Parisian dealer in Art Deco antiques. He is completely focused on his business, and on the accumulation of goods. Evidently, this monomania has come at the expense of family, friendships and business ethics - has gained him the notoriety of being a man who has no friends. At a restaurant gathering on his birthday, his associates tell him bluntly that when he dies, there will be exactly zero people at his funeral. Coste can't accept this and claims to have many friends. He is challenged by his business partner (whose sexual preference he does not even know) to prove this. He has 10 days to prove that he is not totally bereft of friends.
Bruno Bouley (Balanchine in the English version) is a voluble and warmhearted taxi driver - the kind who rattles off historical details as he drives his fares around town. Bouley has tried to make his talent pay off by appearing on French TV game shows, but his extreme nervousness keeps him from being chosen as a contestant.
One day, these two meet, and after a certain amount of skittishness, Costes decides that this hyper-extraverted cab driver could be his ticket to winning his bet. He engages him to teach him to be friendly.
The film could have taken many paths, but trod one of believability and pathos. Auteuil played Costes marvelously as a man who is seemingly pleasant outwardly, but whose actions, though not evil or outrageous in themselves, pile on one another over time to revealed a character who was toxic and uncaring. Boon played Bouley as the classic lost soul - talented, sensitive and warm - who could neither capitalize on his skill nor find solace among his own acquaintances.
"My Best Friend" is engaging, real, funny and often poignant. The plot line is tight, providing plausible limits and rationales for character actions. There is smart use of a Greek vase depicting the friendship of Achilles and Patroclus -- an object that becomes the unexpected focus of Costes's attention and a key element in the film. The emotional heat of "My Best Friend" is always set on low. But like Costes's many business acquaintances, viewers will find themselves pulling for him, hoping that he will find it in himself to be less "détestable" - another French word that needs no translation - and more "sympathique" or likable - a quality that Costes sought throughout this wonderful film. "
François and Bruno: the French Odd Couple.
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 10/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by Patrice Leconte (Monsieur Hire, Intimate Strangers), My Best Friend (Mon Meilleur Ami) stars one of my favorite French actors, Daniel Auteuil, as François, a smug Parisian antiques dealer, who one day realizes that he has no friends. In fact, his co-workers, business associates, and family members all clearly despise him, and bluntly confess as much during his birthday party. (You may remember Auteuil from his fine performances in Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring, Cache (Hidden), Un Coeur en Hiver ( A Heart in Winter ), La Separation, and Lucie Aubrac.) After betting his lesbian business partner (Julie Gayet) that he will produce a best friend within 10 days, François sets out to find one. His search goes badly. Eventually he meets his complete opposite, a lovable, big-hearted, trivia-obsessed, chattering, Paris cabdriver, Bruno (Danny Boon), resulting in a Gallic Odd Couple. Like Felix and Oscar, these men need each other. Both Auteuil and Boon bring captivating performances to this otherwise formulaic, no-real-surprises, buddy comedy. I'm predicting a Hollywood remake possibly starring Alec Baldwin or John Malkovitch as François and Adam Sandler as Bruno.
Like A Gourmet Feast In A Sea Of Fast Food
thornhillatthemovies.com | Venice, CA United States | 07/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Francois (Daniel Auteuil, "Apres Vous", "Jean De Florette" and many, many other French Films), an antiques dealer, attends an auction with his business partner, Catherine (Julie Gayet). She is aghast when Francois gets into a bidding war with a television producer for an ancient Greek vase depicting the story of two friends. Francois wins the vase, and Catherine is shocked when writing out the check for such a large amount. After the auction, they attend a dinner with a group of acquaintances. Very pleased with the vase and its story, Francois turns the conversation to his new acquisition and learns he really has no friends, the acquaintances are finally fed up with Francois' arrogance and don't mince words when telling him the truth. But he won't, can't admit they are right and claims they haven't met his best friend. Catherine bets him that he can't produce this best friend within ten days. Bruno (Dany Boon, "The Valet"), a taxi driver, works in Francois' neighborhood and takes him a few places. As they get to know one another, Francois realizes Bruno could be his "best friend". When he reveals the pick to Catherine, he realizes Bruno will need to make some sort of `grand gesture' to qualify. As the antiques dealer tries to figure out what this might be, he also learns more and more about his new friend. They go to a football match, they have dinner at Bruno's parent's home, he meets Francois' daughter. But will Francois recognize his genuine friendship with Bruno before he jeopardizes it?
"My Best Friend (Mon Meilleur Ami)", the new film directed by Patrice Laconte ("The Widow of St. Pierre", "The Man on the Train", "The Girl on the Bridge", "Ridicule"), is yet another example of this filmmaker's skill and desire to create films about real people in real situations. Each of his films tells an interesting, believable, intensely watch able story about two or three people in a situation. Laconte does not create spectacles; he seems to be unaware of the creation of CGI and there are never any car chases in his films. Instead, his films are about people, the decisions they make, the things they do, the people they know and love.
"Friend" tells the story of two men who form a friendship. I have become so conditioned by certain conventions in cinema that I kept waiting for the `wacky' subplot about people mistaking them for a `Gay' couple. Its such a rare thing to find a film about two guys who are friends that when we do, there is almost always some story line about people mistaking them as guy, because of course if two guys are `friends' they can only be lovers as well. It seems to make many viewers uncomfortable to see two adult males as friends, which is why we almost always have films about three or four guys hanging out together, each of these guys representing a stereotype of the `male'. As I sat watching "Friend", I kept waiting for this subplot to rear its tired, overworked head. But then I had to remind myself this is a Patrice Laconte film. It won't happen. And it didn't. How refreshing. It is such a rarity in cinema today, to watch a film about two guys who are friends.
I should never have expected Laconte to use this tired cliché in his film. If anything, I should have expected just the opposite. Laconte is all about the characters. When a filmmaker devotes so much time and effort to establishing his characters and letting them drive the story, he won't (can't?) insert artificial and hokey subplots. In each of Laconte's films, he lets the relationships unwind in a natural and completely realistic way. Because this is so unusual, and something we rarely see, we consider it an exception rather than the norm. These characters are more real than just about every other character depicted on the screen.
And Francois and Bruno are no exception. Auteuil is probably the second most prolific actor in French cinema, behind only Gerard Depardieu. Because he works so much, we see him more often in the films imported from France to our country. And he is an actor with remarkable expression, charm and range. The last thing I saw him in was "Apres Vous", a comedy about a French waiter and some of his associates. It was fun, but uneven. Auteuil has been in a few of Laconte's previous films and I think the duo is the French equivalent of Scorsese and DeNiro. They work very well together.
Francois is an egotistical jerk who doesn't even realize the people surrounding him are keeping him company out of a sense of obligation; most are business associates and would rather not lose the income. He even treats others in this same way; he attends an associate's funeral just to get a crack at a desk the deceased owned. But when Francois insists one of them is a `best friend', they have had enough. They let him in on the truth. Francois is stunned. Auteuil reveals a lot of things in this moment; he shows Francois' shock, bewilderment, realization and more without a lot of gestures or facial movements, the overriding emotion seems to be the realization that Francois is a lonely man. And this spurs him to find a friend. Auteuil`s character is a grown man, so rather than break down and cry, he becomes determined to find someone he can label a `best friend'. This determination becomes a reality when Catherine bets him he can't produce this friend for them to see. Because Francois is so egotistical and self-involved, this seems completely natural and real for this character. The only thing that will override his shock and dismay at learning he has no friends is his determination to win the bet. He sets out to win with all of his skill, might and resolve.
As the story progresses and evolves, Auteuil's Francois remains consistent and believable.
I have not seen Boon in any previous films and he is equally good as Bruno, the taxi driver who becomes Francois personal driver and then friend, he has openness, an air that would make him susceptible to someone like François. Bruno is a talkative guy, well versed in facts and welcome and willing to talk to one and all. As they talk, and Bruno starts to spout random trivia, Francois learns he has studied all his life to become a contestant on a game show. The one time he earned a tryout, he became too nervous. Francois is, at first, annoyed by the talkative cabbie, but is soon won over by his openness and friendliness. When he learns of Bruno's aborted attempt to become a game show contestant, he becomes all the more intrigued.
The relationship between the two men is also key to the film's success. At first, Francois is a little put off by Bruno's friendly, open nature. For many people in large metropolitan areas, it is easier, safer to stay within your own little world and not to open up too much to strangers. Bruno is a talkative guy, trying to elicit conversation with Francois, so much so that when Francois realizes he is about to get a cab with Bruno, he keeps walking. But when he realizes Bruno could be "the best friend", he starts to actively pursue the relationship.
As Francois becomes more involved in Bruno's life, he slowly learns more and more about his friend. This is information that will both inform his actions and help him understand the consequences after Francois' grand gesture gimmick.
The relationship also plays out in a very realistic nature. After Francois realizes he has hurt Bruno, he learns why. And he tries to make a grand gesture of his own, to make things right. But just because this happens, it doesn't mean they are going to patch up the relationship immediately.
"My Best Friend", which is already slated to be remade as an American film (wacky gay subplot anyone?) is a very good film exploring the relationship of two men. Two grown men who are friends. And straight as can be. "
Surprisingly touching film
Kitso | New Zealand | 12/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film goes back to basic on the meaning of friendship. More than just "preaching", this film takes the viewer on a journey to discovering friendships. Wonderful."