The always popular Gerard Depardieu (102 DALMATIANS, VATEL) stars in a warmly engaging comedy that shows how one little white lie can change everything! A dull and lonely accountant working at a condom factory, Francois (D... more »aneil Auteuil) meekly endures office jokes and backroom whispers that he's about to be fired ... usually instigated by his loutish coworker Felix (Depardieu). But that all changes when a rumor about him spreads around the office! Much to his surprise, this funny falsehood becomes the catalyst that sends Francois' life on an unexpected and hilarious turn for the better! As this outrageous, critically acclaimed story unfolds, you'll laugh along with Francois as he keeps this improbable charade going in an inspired bid to save his job and transform his life!« less
M.Pignon Opens Closet: Funny French Comedy about Sexuality
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 11/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You may not know the name of French director Francis Veber, and his funny French comedy "The Dinner Game" (1999), but if you are fond of comedy, you might have seen the films like "Father's Day" and "Birdcage." Yes, the last two Hollywood outings are actually remakes of his works, and though not all of his films are masterpieces, "The Closet" alone would make you remember his name. This film is that funny.Daniel Auteuil is M. Pignon, who has been working for a condom factory as an accountant for 20 years, now he happens to learn that he is going to be fired. Shocked by the news, he thinks of jumping from the window to kill himself when an old man living in the next room gives a tip; "pretend you're gay." For political reasons (and commercial ones too) the company cannot fire him as they are afraid of being accused of having discriminating attitudes. It succeeds, and M. Pignon is happy ... for a while.Because unexpected things happen like chain reaction; "sexual harrassment" from his beautiful female boss (she has her own reason), sexual advance from his co-worker and rugby coach (he has his own reason, too), and so on. The story goes on with twists and turns, finally leading to the confidence newly established in M. Pignon. Though the ending is not as good as it should be, and some parts are a bit incredible, the cast is so great that those flaws are all ignored in the end. Daniel Auteuil's dead-pan humor is always effective, and funniest is his face when he is in a parade wearing a huge tip of condom on his head. Also humorous is Gerard Depardieu, whose character experiences a total transformation."The Closet" has some satire on our attitude about sexuality, but it doesn't preach them. Rather, the film handles them with a lighter tough, which avoids the pitfall of being too gloomy or philosophical. The fact is, the film is too light for some; and clearly the director hesitates to push some interesting points the film presents. But "The Closet" should be about M. Pignon, who, just like the protagonist of the same name in "The Dinner Game," is about Mr. Everyman. His journey to a new life is what we see, and we enjoy watching. As such the film succeeds, and it is because of fantastic Daniel Auteuil."
Comes on strong but finishes weak.
A. C. Walter | Lynnwood, WA USA | 07/18/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A rubber company that specializes in manufacturing condoms is downsizing, and Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil) is about to be laid off. Pignon is an extremely ordinary and dull person, and no one can think of a good reason to keep him on. Also, he is still in love with his ex-wife and tries to be a father to his estranged son, but neither of them return his affection. Getting his pink slip sends Pignon into a short-lived depression, when his new neighbor hatches a scheme to help Pignon keep his job. Belone, the neighbor, doctors some photos of men in a gay bar--putting Pignon's face on one of the men--and sends them in an anonymous envelope to his employer. He tells Pignon to not even worry about acting gay; just stay the same, he says, and everyone around you will alter *their* behavior. The main objective is, of course, to scare a condom company out of firing a gay man, and as expected, all manner of hilarity ensues. Director and screenwriter Francis Veber's "The Closet" rides the wave of international success stirred by his 1998 film "The Dinner Game" without providing as well-structured or as consistent a story. The first half of the film is every bit as funny as the setup to "The Dinner Game," supplying nearly a dozen fascinating characters (all wonderfully acted by a superb ensemble cast), and promising much. Part of concept of the film deals with shifting the focus from Pignon to the people around him. Unfortunately, in an 80-minute film, Veber is unable to complete even a minimal story arc for each character--which leaves the film feeling somewhat disjointed in the end. Perhaps it is to Veber's detriment, in a film like this, that he writes such consistently fascinating characters; if the characters were less intriguing, the audience would not protest when one of them disappeared or suddenly and inexplicably turned into a simple caricature. For example, Gerard Depardieu plays Santini, an office homophobe who must begin to "play nice" with Pignon or risk losing his own job. For a while, this relationship promises the sort of intense character interaction at which Veber excels. Soon, however, Santini undergoes a comic but inexplicable personality change and is marginalized from the film. Santini's role in the story is replaced by a smattering of vignettes which show other office workers being alternately cruel and kind toward Pignon. Additionally, like Veber's previous film, "The Closet" obtains its comic premise from a social injustice. This film, however, is slightly more blatant in its message-oriented nature. In message films, an audience often has to endure forced dialogue--sometimes even entire forced scenes--which are not organic to the piece. While "The Closet" is not as preachy as it might have been in the hands of another director, the occasional sermonizing does detract from the film."
An archetypal French farce, glittering with star power.
Miles D. Moore | Alexandria, VA USA | 09/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Francis Veber, the King of French Farce, keeps cranking 'em out at a rate that would boggle even the mind of Georges Feydeau. His latest, "The Closet," features nebbishy accountant Francois--mocked by his colleagues, abandoned by his wife, dissed by his son and about to be fired--who schemes to keep his job by pretending to be gay. Francois' gay psychologist neighbor advises him not to change anything about himself--what will change is other people's perception of him. That's not the only thing that changes in Veber's smoothly written, surefire-as-clockwork farce. Francois' life ends up changing in unforeseen ways, as do the lives of the people around him--particularly that of Santini, the homophobic personnel manager who must suddenly play up to Francois in order to keep his own job. All sorts of crazy complications ensue, and the denouement is appropriately sunny. "The Closet" won't change your life, but it will leave you feeling happy, and you will marvel at the sheer star power lavished on this lightweight tale. Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu, France's answer to Kevin Spacey and Robert De Niro, play Francois and Santini; in the supporting cast are Thierry Lhermitte, Michel Aumont and Jean Rochefort, which is roughly equivalent to having Richard Gere, Gene Hackman and Michael Caine in the supporting cast of an English-language movie. These superb professionals know exactly what is required of them, and deliver it gift-wrapped. As crazed as the comedy gets, it is the quiet individual moments that will really leave you rolling in the aisles: whether it's Auteuil's sick embarrassment at sitting on a Gay Pride float wearing a condom hat, or Depardieu's blissed-out, zombie stare as his world crumbles around him, you know that you are in the hands of master farceurs."
A New Meaning to Coming Out!
V. Marshall | North Fork, CA USA | 09/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This French film is one of the funniest movies ever, with great writing and a cast of huge talents.
It all begins in a condom manufacturing plant with a boring accountant (Daniel Auteuil) who overhears from a bathroom stall that he will be fired from his position. Upon returning home he informs his ex-wife and son of his pending predicament and vows to find another job in order to keep them in alimony. He meets a new neighbor (Michel Aumont) who convinces him not to jump from his balcony and the fun soon begins. Together they concoct a story to save his job believing that if he can convince his company that he is really gay he will save his position by suggesting a prejudice exists. The company sends its dogs out to fend off any chance of a lawsuit and uses the services of its most macho employee (Gerard Depardieu) to "romance" away any perceived distaste for the new discovery. From here the story spins and weaves into a web of hilarious lies that will have you rolling on the floor in laughter.
This film is so well written and easy to follow that the sub-titles are easily accepted by even the most English of all English speakers. While some of the references in this film might be taken harshly by those of the gay persuasion it is really only a lighthearted stab at all of the stereotypes that lurk within a corporate existence. Boring accountants could also take offense for that matter! Auteuil is fantastic as the bumbling lead, Depardieu is never better as the macho man who eventually finds his true passion, Aumont wonderful as the helpful neighbor with a few secrets of his own, the incomparable Jean Rochefort adds his own brand of humor to the film cast as the company CEO and the cast just continues into a complete brilliance.
If you love to laugh, especially at yourself, this film will keep you in stitches and one viewing will leave you wanting more. For collectors of comedy films this one is a must have. So forget your hang-ups and enjoy a moment out of whatever closet suffocates you. "
"The Closet" well worth a look
A. C. Walter | 08/25/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A very funny movie with some interesting twists--Daniel Auteuil plays an accountant about to be downsized. Divorced and avoided by his teenaged son he is ready to jump off his balcony when a new neighbor stops him, and suggests that to keep his job, he should "come out of the closet"--his company, which manufactures condoms, will not want to appear to have fired him for his sexual preferences. When he protests that he cannot act gay, his friend asserts that he will not need to change--others' perceptions of him will. Strangely enough, this subterfuge brings Auteuil and almost everyone in his life to confront and become who they really are--to come out of their own closets, so to speak. In French with English subtitles, which are pretty accurate."