Francis Veber (The Dinner Game and The Closet), the living master of French farce, has combined his classic elements of hilarious slapstick with quick-witted dialogue in the new film The Valet. The tale begins when Françoi... more »s Pignon, (Gad Elmaleh) a restaurant car service valet at a posh Paris hotel gets caught-up in a billionaire industrialist's sneaky infidelities. Veber's plot quickly turns on the fall guy, when François ? an innocent passerby - is photographed by a paparazzo leaving the hotel along with Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil), the wealthy tycoon and his beautiful supermodel mistress Elena (Alice Taglioni. In a desperate attempt to avoid an ugly divorce with his wife Christine, (Kristin Scott Thomas) Pierre's scheming lawyer Maitre Foix (Richard Berry) concocts an outrageous plan. By paying the valet a large sum of money to live with Pierre's mistress, the two men hope to mislead the tabloids and most importantly hide the affair from his wife. Meanwhile, the ruthless Pierre must convince the stunning Elena to live with François in his cruddy apartment until the dust settles. All the while, continuing to reassure his wife that the other man in the photo, François, is really Elena's boyfriend. Francis Veber's intricate and lively plot, tick-tock timing and variety of unusual characters make The Valet a hilariously good time.« less
"Genuinely funny all the way through. I DON"T watch films described as "hilarious", "zany" as I always find them, in my opinon, stupid. I like real people and real situations. This movie is genuinely funny and the characters are true to themselves. This movie has warm humor. Don't miss it."
A rather low-keyed French farce about trying to have your wi
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There is a scene in "The Lion in Winter" where Eleanor of Aquitaine is explaining the current royal machination and her son Geoffrey says: "I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it." Geoffrey then offers a wicked smile and adds, "We're a knowledgeable family." I was remind of that line while watching "La Doublure" ("The Valet"), because in this 2006 French farce pretty much everybody knows what is going on, with the ironic exception of the guy who set all this nonsense into motion. In that regard writer-director Francis Veber's film is not a typical French farce where things are played broadly. As French farces go, "La Doublure" is rather sedate, which I thought actually worked for the film. Farce tends to make everybody look stupid, but Veber clearly decides to make one character the butt of this film.
That would be Pierre Lavasseur (Daniel Auteuil, "Un Coeur en Hiver"), the chief executive of a company with labor problems who is having an affair with a top model, Elena Simonsen (Alice Taglioni, "Grande Ecole"). Lavasseur's problems begin with a paparazzi takes a photograph that appears on the front page of a tabloid showing him with Elena. His wife, Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas, "The English Patient"), demands an explanation and all Levasseur can come up with is the lame excuse that he is just an innocent bystander, that he has no idea who the woman is, and that must have been with the other guy in the photograph. That would be Francois Pignon (Gad Elmaleh, "Gad Elmaleh Lautre C'est Moi"), who makes his modest living by parking cars, hence the film's title. Elena gives Levassuer an ultimatum to either divorce his wife and marry her, or forget about seeing her ever again. A divorce is problematic for Levassuer because his wife happens to be the majority stockholder in his company. Then his laywer, Maitre Foix (Richard Berry), suggests that the solution to all of these problems is to make the lie the truth by finding the innocent bystander in the photography and paying him to pretend he is Elena's lover.
Francois is in love with Emilie (Virginia Ledoyen, "The Beach"), who runs the local bookstore, but she thinks of him more like a brother. Besides, she is drowning in debt and does not need to marry somebody who has less money than she does. So when Foix shows up and makes the offer to Francois, he immediately demands a specific amount of money equal to that of Emilie's debts. Elena demands money herself: 20 million euros to go into a trust. If Levasseur divorces his wife, he gets the money back. So it is that Elena moves in with Francois, while both Levasseur and his wife have the faux couple spied upon.
Without even trying hard you can figure out the sort of things that are going to happen next, especially once Emilie sees Francois and Elena together, not to mention the possibilities when Francois and Elena have to sleep in a bed together. But "La Doublure" forgoes most of those commonplaces and pretty much fast-forwards through the rest. Francois and Elena quickly become friends and she is more than willing to help him with his romance of Emilie. Your assumption is that everybody has to maintain the masquerade with comedic results, but instead Veber makes sure that everybody is in on what is going on. Christine knows that what is happening with Francois and Elena is fake and they know that she knows it. In fact, the fun here is that the only one who does not know that everybody knows is Levasseur. The resolution is also relatively low-keyed, but by this point it is clearly Veber running against form. That might cut against the grain for those who embrace the full-fledged French farce, but I liked the change of pace enough to round up on "La Doublure" in the end."
Farce as only the French do it
Diana F. Von Behren | Kenner, LA USA | 11/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Francois Pignon, director Francis Veber's quintessential bourgeois French character, makes yet another appearance in the 2007 film "The Valet." In four different films, four actors who have nothing physically in common portray the same character type. Pignon may suffer from a benign Weltschmerz living a routine existence in a one-track job. However, when external circumstances stress his system his natural ability to persevere activates and he comes out fighting for his life at full throttle. Think Daniel Auteuil as Pignon in "The Closet" as he battles a forced resignation from his place of employment by erroneously claiming he is homosexual.
In this latest manifestation, cool blue/green eyed actor Gad Elmaleh plays Pignon to perfection. His very inconspicuousness renders him conspicuous and sets in motion a madcap set of events that continually amuse in a formulaic class struggle that can be categorized as fluff but nevertheless works.
In "The Valet," Pignon is inadvertently positioned as the middleman between billionaire captain of industry Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil) and his mistress of two years, the breathtakingly lovely media-darling Elena, (Alice Taglioni). Supermodel Elena has given money-bags Pierre the expected divorce-your-wife ultimatum and he cleverly stalls with the help of his lawyer, M.Foix, a despicably jaded stereotype the creation of which Moliere would have been proud. Unfortunately for Levasseur, the proverbial stuff hits the fan when he is seen photographed with Elena in a national tabloid by his wife, Christine, the formidably intelligent beauty, Kristin Scott Thomas, who also happens to own 60% of the Lavasseur businesses. Serendipitously, Pierre's salvation comes in the form of a third person appearing in the photo---the unassuming Pignon, car valet for an expensive Parisian restaurant by the Eiffel Tower which Veber uses stunningly to accentuate the class differences. Lawyer Foix circumvents a messy expensive divorce between the Levasseurs, putting Christine into a dubious holding pattern while arranging for Elena and Pignon to live together and appear in public as a valid yet ludicrous odd couple.
A multitude of wonderfully funny side stories ensue: we watch fellow valet and roommate, the hysterically doubtful Richard (Dany Boon), gap with open-mouth middle class wonder at Pignon's new-found success with the rich, famous and gorgeous Elena. Emilie, (played by pretty Virginie Ledoyen of "The Beach") who previously thought of Pignon as a brother figure, gives him a second more serious look and finds herself incredulously rethinking his marriage proposal when she spots him at a local café with the blonde bombshell. Equally enjoyable are Pignon's parents---the mother, adorably vindicated as her fantasy regarding her son's appeal to the opposite sex seems a definite reality, plays off the more grounded father, a supposed pneumonia patient who gives up his bed for his hypochondriac doctor. Meanwhile, private detectives, paid lackeys, goggle-eyed waiters and an annoyed maitre d' add to the mayhem. As the count of dumbfounded onlookers increases and reports riddled with incorrect information is relayed back to Pierre his paranoia builds proportionately as he begins to question the ersatz relationship that he put together himself.
Bottom line? Director Francis Veber's film tells a completely modern story using predictable antics from the classical playbook of the great masters of satire. A light-hearted class struggle of sorts, the rich and the famous versus the behind-the-scenes nobodies, "The Valet" satisfies like an airy profiterole with dark chocolate sauce. No heavy whipped-up philosophical or political messages (thank heaven) intended here, so don't expect any. Being able to predict the outcome of certain setup situations makes this visually pleasing film all the more delicious. Guys, take delight in Alice Taglioni, one of two of the most beautiful women I have seen in film this year ---the other being Aishwarya Rai of Mistress of Spices. Laugh and enjoy---don't be put off by the rather abrupt ending. Recommended. Diana Faillace Von Behren "reneofc" "
Park It Right Here!
Gregor von Kallahann | 08/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know that you can say that the French do farce BETTER than anyone else, but they do do it different, and VIVE Ca! There's nothing startlingly original about LA DOUBLURE (THE VALET): you kinda know where it's going most of the time, but then again, you probably won't complain about going along for the ride either. Et la difference? Well, the film is unabashedly slight. Farce does not have to be so da*n LOUD as many of us on this side of the lac seem to think. LA DOUBLURE proceeds at its own gentle, genial pace, and provides the audience with, really, just enough laughs along the way. You may not find it a real knee-slapper, but you will get a few chuckles out of this charmer--and lots of wry smiles.
Many of the cast members were unfamiliar to me, although I've had a mad crush on Virginie Ledoyen since I saw her in 8 WOMEN a few years ago. And Kristin Scott Thomas is as elegant and as watchable as ever. I guess those claims about her mastery of the French language were all true, but who knew she could project that unique brand of upper class French hautiness so stunningly? Gad Elmaleh has the title role, and there hasn't been as winning a sad sack on screen since, oh, I dunno, Buster Keaton maybe. And Alice Traglioni is stunning--and likable--as the supermodel Elena.
So anyway, (Defense de spoiler!)this is just another one of those shlub-of-a-guy-gets-paid-to-briefly-do-a-sham-shackup-with-Paris'-top-model-to-cover-up-her-actual-affair-with-a-top-CEO stories. And we all know the outcome. The shlub and the top model are going to fall in love. No? That's not it. Wait, wait! OK, the shlub will attempt to make his real true love jealous and eventually win her heart. WHEW, got it. OK, OK, there's only so many ways the movie can go. But it does have so much heart, and quite a bit of flair--to say nothing of an appealing cast and, yes, just a hint of social commentary. (This is France, after all, somebody's gotta go on strike: and class distinctions gotta be acknowledged and played upon for all they're worth).
It's fluff, but it's intelligent fluff. Vas-y. Enjoy! "
Original comedy that well deserves your attention!
""Valet" constitutes a well rounded and poignant comedy that deals with those unsaid and veiled infidelities of a wealthy executive supported by the solid financial aid of his wife. On the other hand, we have the other side of the coin: a looser who makes his living as valet in a luxurious hotel in front of the Eiffel Tower who has been rejected buy his everlasting love.
The twist of fate will make both men have to share a little agreement that involves the top model of the moment (the alluring Alice Taglioni).
So, here you have the main ingredients of this entangled and funny movie that ends with an acidic finale. "