Twenty years after `La cage aux folles', `Pédale douce' revisits the comedy that has gay characters as main comic devices. Obviously, times have changed, and while the Cage's heroes were hysterical, outrageous `queens', gays in a 1996 comedy need to be more realistic. Here, Adrien and his friends are gay top bank executives who have to deal with Alexandre, a powerful, über-macho client. Because he's in love with Eva, Adrian's best female friend and gay club owner, Alexandre will discover a world he'd known only through the magazines. This is a very rich sometimes too rich - movie, full of situations, characters and moods, ranging from physical comedy to very moving moments, like the touching and difficult relationship between Adrien and Eva. Though it's very funny, the general tone is bittersweet : everybody in this movie is not exactly what he/she thinks he/she is, and will have to cope, more or less successfully, with this discovery. AIDS looms over the characters. The movie has been criticized for recycling most of the clichés about gay culture (the characters may be bank executives, but they still act a little like the Cage's Zaza Napoli), and for being ultimately conservative (gays remain gays and straights remain straights). Still, Pédale douce is very enjoyable, and wonderfully played, with a special mention for Fanny Ardant as the complex, sensitive Eva.
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