Friday, August 31, 2007

My Best Friend (2006, Patrice Leconte)

Fascinating and exasperating in equal measure, Leconte's latest film is a step toward lighter fare that left me conflicted. Many of my negative feelings toward the film comes from the dum-dum premise, in which a friendless man is bet by his business partner that he can't produce a best friend within 10 days. The film's first reel or so is easily the least interesting part, as associates of Daniel Auteuil's character, with next to no provocation, come right out and tell him that he doesn't have any friends. Now come on dudes- I don't think there are any adults, particularly not in the cultivated circles Francois runs in, who come right out and tell someone this. They'd be more likely to simply humor him until he does something abominable, at which time someone would blurt it out and everyone else would find themselves inclined to agree. Fortunately, the film gets better, due in large part to the performances of Auteuil and Dany Boon, who plays a cab driver Auteuil enlists to teach him about friendship. The two actors have an easy chemistry, and their scenes together are charming, up until a boorish miscalculation on Auteuil's part alienates his new pal and they have a sudden falling-out, in a scene that feels forced and silly. However, the film rebounds in the final act, involving Boon's last-minute booking on Who Wants to Be a Millionare?, works like gangbusters, with Leconte milking real suspense partly by exploiting the manufactured suspense of the game show, and partly by the turn of events. My Best Friend is inconsistent and occasionally exasperating, but I'll certainly take it over the somnambulent Intimate Strangers. Rating: 5 out of 10.

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