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Le Placard/The Closet

Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte, Michele Laroque, Michel Aumont, and Jean Rochefort
Directed by: Francis Verber
French w/ Subtitles

Buy it!

The Closet is not a high brow French art house film where you need a black beret, a perpetually lit cigarette and the protein of a slab of brie to enjoy the story. It's simply a charming well paced comedy that lightly sweeps you up and glides you pleasantly through to the end.

The well crafted characters, played by a string of well know French actors including; Daniel Auteuil, Thierry Lhermitte, Michèle Laroque, Michel Aumont, Jean Rochefort and acting behemoth (in more ways then one) Gerard Depardidiadoodoo, did one hell of a job in this farcical treat directed and written by an expert at gay-laced closet opening films, Francis Verber.

Francis Verber has turned his visceral eye towards the workplace. How the preconceived notions we draw of people are often completely off base. But, they are what we see them to be. With this apparent knowledge of people's nature, he magically plays on the psychology of reaction to rumor. Guilty till proven innocent isn't it?

François Pignon (perpetually brilliant Daniel Auteuil) is a guy with no hobby, no lover, and or even a microscopic grain of personality. In fact I believe his wife left him for fear of death by extreme boredom. His teenage son avoids him as if his Pignon's French smooches on his cheek will leave herpes sores, and he's just over heard he's being fired from his job of twenty years. A job that is really the focus of his existence at this point. Things just aren't good for the man. He should just le jump to his pitiful death right? It's not like anyone would notice?

But, there's a better solution. Pignon's new neighbor Belone (Michel Aumont) has a revolutionary ploy that will guarantee Pignon's mean old boss will think twice about the impending axing. It's easy as purchasing a few Streisand albums, doning ass-open lederhosen and joining the Nathan Lane fan club. A simple change of his sexuality and viola' Pignon will be able to keep his job!

Yes, Pignon is to pretend to be a gay male. He'll be prancing out of "the closet" he never went into! The thinking is the boss would be too afraid of the publicty or worse, a lawsuit if word got out Pignon was fired because he's gay. After all Pignon works at a condom plan which sells to a large gay client base!

Workplace bully and all around man-brute Felix (Gerard "300 pounds yet, still mysteriously, I am sexy, no?" Depardieu) is living the homophobes returning nightmare...He is ordered by his superiors to not just be nice to Pignon, but to court him...befriend him...Or he himself, may lose his job. They must keep Pignon! Depardieu glides thru the Felix role. His eyes and mannerisms perfect. Admittedly, he can do no wrong in my eyes...even his decision to Marlon Brando his twilight years.

Verber's female lead Mlle. Bertrand, Played by a charming Michele Laroque, is at once the epitome of class and elegance as she handles her comic parts with a Lucille Ball-like comic's timing. Bravo. Mlle. Betrand is not so easily fooled by Pignon's "outing." She's determined to get to the truth...even if it takes wine and Lo-mein to do it! A woman's secret weapons...

His co-workers are not so much shocked as excited to have something to talk about in their drone little lives. Cleverly executed the film shows how perception is not always what it seems. How easily we are lead by our assumptions, and how nonchalant we switch our views and opinions on cue from others. Pignon was a dull, invisible chap until he is outed by malicious intent photos of him in leather gear with a boy-toy. The office co-workers barely noticed him before or were quick give him a verbal bashing. Now he is an enigma. The most popular man at the plant.

I can't wait to see Hollywood's version when they purchase writer/director Veber's script a' la The Birdcage and "Americanize it." Obviously, it's in Le Pacard's crossover future. Hmm, perhaps cast John Cusack as Pignon, John Goodman as Felix, James Cromwell as the company president and Kate Beckinsale as Ms. Betrand? Sadly, that will be the only way a mass audience will experience this clever "little" movie.

Don't get all homophobic when you read elsewhere about its being a gay & lesbian film. This is not entirely true. Sure there 's a gay character but this is no La Cage. Modern and brilliant in its cynicism of human nature. And in any category it's one you see.

Snack Recommendation: Lo-mein from Le Take out and a nice red wine.



 

 

 

 

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