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STUDIO:  IFC
MSRP: $24.95
RATED: PG-13
RUNNING TIME: 94 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
-The Making of My Best Friend
- Theatrical Trailer

The Pitch

It’s like Friends in the Negative Zone.

The Humans

Dany (The Valet) Boon, Daniel (Cache) Auteuil

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Dany was beginning to test the supportive nature of his social circle, what with the constant performance art pieces interrupting get-togethers.

The Nutshell

Francois (Auteuil) is an antiques dealer whose life is his business. When confronted at business party with the  cold truth that he does not, in fact, have any friends, just acquaintances, he agrees to wager an ancient Grecian vase against him proving he does have a best friend. Given a two week deadline, Francois looks to the assistance of the gregarious cab driver Bruno, who seems to have affability and friendship all locked up. What both men find is that there’s a very slight difference between being a friend to no one and being a friend to everyone, and that perhaps through one another they’ll be able to discover what true friendship actually entails. AND THEY’RE NOT GAY, I SWEAR.

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John’s Pet Euthanizations On the Go! made up for what it lacked in actual qualifications with good old fashioned customer service.

The Lowdown

The film gets by mostly on its solid hook (man searching for friendship with no clue as to how to interact with human beings on a non-business level) and the charming performances from its leads, Dany Boon and Daniel Auteuil. It’s this chemistry between the leads that lifts the picture up through its sagging third act. It’s a natural progression of the narrative to split the friends apart for a time, and the natural audience inclination is towards regrouping our two leads in a triumphant finale. However, the film tries to mine tension using a game show conceit from which the seeds were planted early in the film and it doesn’t particularly work.  You’re more interested in the human aspect of this story, and this entire dramatic conclusion to the proceedings feels like an inorganic addition to what had been a pretty well-paced and well-thought comedy beforehand. And then the “…months later” epilogue feels especially weak in terms of what has come before and even if it finally provides what we as the viewers need to leave the picture satisfied, its done in such a clunky way that the film survives solely through the endearing performances from Auteuil and Boon. However, I will note that I do like that the film’s suggestion of the imperfection of the lead’s friendship (SPOILERS! Even when reunited under the precept that truth and transparency is incredibly important for friendship to thrive, Francois keeps the knowledge of the vase as duplicate from Bruno, a nice touch. END SPOILERS!), it’s an incredibly human touch in a somewhat cold and distant conclusion to the film.

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A reverse shot truly better left to the imagination.

Both Boon and Auteuil both seem incredibly suited to this material. Boon radiates warmth with his performance as Bruno the taxi driver, and manages to mine some genuine pathos out of his characters loneliness, creating a fantastically sympathetic character. Auteuil seems like a natural fit for comedy, as his expressive face can tell the story without the director having to do much in the way of work. His character is in that ‘lovable fuckup’ mold, where clearly he’s on the right track, but he’s going to make some catastrophic mistakes before he truly learns his lesson. There’s a genuine rapport between these two actors that makes for some genuinely entertaining scenes during the middle portion of the film as the two men get to know one another and seem to find the friend they’ve both missing in their respective lives in one another.

Overall, I’d give this film a pass due to some solid direction by Leconte (his work here is unobtrusive and wholly competent, and one of the emotional exclamation points of the film is edited perfectly so as to jolt the audience out of the film’s amiable tone up until that point) and the becoming-probably-already-is-repetitive mention of the appealing performances from its leads. It’s refreshing to see a movie deal solely with friendship between human beings as opposed to shoehorning a romantic interest into the picture (I’d imagine an American remake would have some sort of parallel relationship grow alongside the friendship, as heterosexual male bonding wouldn’t be dramatic enough of a hook for a comedy), and there’s a certain truthfulness to the film’s depiction of the give and take of a good friendship that makes it worthy viewing. It’s not game changing, but it’s a nice little picture that uses the quality of its character to power past its sloppy third act. Slight recommendation.

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Roughly translated: ‘Who exposed themselves to group of impressionable youths in 1874?’

The Package

The cover art is bland, but acceptable. It has at least upgraded from floating heads to floating torsos.  The movie looks and sounds fantastic, so kudos to them on that front, although it is rather skimpy on the extras.  What you do get is nice however, a making-of – feaurette that tops out at about twenty-five minutes.  It’s the type of thing that goes just beyond the numbing talking head interviews where everyone espouses on how great one another were in the making of the film (although there is a bit of that contained therein, to be sure) and at least shows a little bit of what the on-set nuts and bolts were of this production.  A minimal addition to be sure, but appreciated.  Overall, it’s worth a rental, but I don’t think this will rock anyone’s world.

6.5 out of 10