APRES VOUS (director/writer: Pierre Salvadori; screenwriters: Benoît Graffin/based on an idea by Daniele Dubroux; cinematographer: Gilles Henry; editor: Isabelle Devinck; music: Camille Bazbaz; cast: Daniel Auteuil (Antoine), José Garcia (Louis), Sandrine Kiberlain (Blanche), Marilyne Canto (Christine), Andrée Tainsy (Grandmother), Michèle Moretti (Martine), Garance Clavel (Karine), Fabio Zenoni (André); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Philippe Martin; Paramount Classics; 2003-France-in French with English subtitles)
“This dumb romantic comedy is not in the same class with Jean Renoir’s masterful Boudu Saved From Drowning, though it toys with the same plot line.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Pierre Salvadori’s romantic farce stumbles along dishing out familiar sitcom comical situations ad nauseam, and it’s never funny. You might swear you saw this movie before, even if you haven’t. It shoots for the same banal sight gags and comedy-of-errors as an “I Love Lucy” TV show does. It only proves that the French are capable of making just as terrible a middle-brow film as Hollywood. This dumb romantic comedy is not in the same class with Jean Renoir’s masterful Boudu Saved From Drowning, though it toys with the same plot line.
Antoine (Daniel Auteuil) is the efficient maitre d’ at a decent Paris restaurant, who has a giving nature. This works out well for all the others he generously helps, but his long suffering girlfriend Christine (Marilyne Canto) is left in the lurch. An hour late for a date, Antoine cuts through the park at night to make up some time. There he encounters Louis (José Garcia) trying to hang himself. Antoine rescues him and brings the distraught man home. Louis is despondent because his girlfriend Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain) left him.The next day he’s asked by Louis to recover his “suicide note” sent to his elderly grandparents, which means going to her house and in a contrived manner gets to read her the letter because she just had eye surgery. Feeling sorry for the sad sack, Louis gets him a job in the restaurant as a sommelier. He also finds Blanche working as a florist, but can’t tell him because he learns she’s getting married soon to André. In a convenient set piece, André is boffing a waitress in a van parked right in front of her shop and Antoine just happens to be there to point that out to her in a sly way. The irate Blanche breaks off the wedding and forces herself on the comforting Antoine, who takes her to a Thai restaurant that’s her favorite–a place she frequented when going out with Louis. Things get dicey when Christine comes there with Louis, as Antoine breaks his date with her claiming he has a business meeting. Meanwhile, with Antoine in his corner, Louis begins to gain more confidence and starts dressing more modern for another crack at Blanche. When Christine spots her man with Blanche she breaks off the relationship, and Antoine starts to go to pieces. The poor guy is attracted to Blanche but feels loyal to Louis, so tries to bring them together again. How things get resolved is plotted the way they teach you in film school to do it by the proven formulaic way. Here it doesn’t work because there’s no chemistry between any of the potential lovers, and everything seems stiff, forced and artificial.
The film’s funniest line has Christine ask Louis: “How’s the chicken? Louis: Dead.” Well, if someone asked me, how’s the film? I would also respond dead.
REVIEWED ON 8/28/2005 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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