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Antoine is a maitre d' in a Paris brasserie, Chez Jean, and is so full of being of service to others that he can't say 'no'. Late for dinner with his girlfriend, Christine, he takes a shortcut home through the park but finds a stranger, Louis, in the act of committing suicide by hanging. Louis is distraught by the loss of his girlfriend, Blanche, and is so grateful that he attaches himself to Antoine. Antoine arranges a job for Louis - as a sommelier at Chez Jean and sets about trying to repair Louis' life... Written by
Antoine (Daniel Auteuil) is a head waiter in a chic Parisian restaurant and lives with his girlfriend Christine (Marilyne Canto). His work occupies a lot of place in his life. One evening, by going through a park to be more quickly at his apartment, he saves from suicide a neurotic man Louis (José Garcia). After vainly attempted to take him back to his close relatives, he takes him under his wing and succeeds to find him a job as a waiter in his workplace. Louis wanted to kill himself because his love affair with his ex girlfriend Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain) went unravel. Antoine found her again because he wants to reconcile them again. She's a charming florist and, you guess it he becomes enamored of her. From then onwards, his well-ordered life starts to showcase signs of poor running.
I'm a little surprised but glad to discover that this little high charged, hilarious comedy enjoys a small reputation abroad. About twenty reviews have already been posted for this film and most of them gave the movie thumbs up. I will post another positive one in spite of minor flaws Pierre Salvadori's film showcases.
Some will be probably surprised but the outset reminded me of Jean Renoir's classic "Boudu Sauvé Des Eaux" (1932), perhaps because of the quite prestigious situation the main protagonists of the films occupy and maybe also because they save from suicide ill-fated men who are cracking up. And then, the saved ones immerse themselves in their rescuers' lives and disrupt their living environment. But although both movies are comedies, they don't belong to the same sub-category. Pierre Salvadori preferred not to follow the steps of the master which bestowed his own work with a strong social satire whiff. There's no trace of it in "Après Vous", although there may be an inkling of it in the following sequence: when Antoine takes Louis in the cellar and shows him the names of the different wines. Louis is afraid not to recognize the right wines and I think that Antoine answers him the customers ape the connoisseurs and don't know anything about wines. The director preferred to choose the road of the sentimental comedy and to especially focus on Antoine's turbulent love life.
Pierre Salvadori commands his film at arm's length and delays the most momentous moment of the movie (the meeting between Louis and Blanche) to better linger on Louis' new life and especially on Antoine's love trouble. In a way, by making Louis work in his restaurant, by undertaking to reconcile him with Blanche and unfortunately by having a crush on her, he is a victim of his generosity. And Louis doesn't really realize the situations in which he puts Antoine. There's a funny sequence around the beginning of the film during which Antoine is at Louis' grandmother's and tries to alter Louis' suicide note in a placating, comforting letter. Then, deep down inside him, he thinks of leaving his ex girlfriend to live with Blanche and has to lie to his protégé and circle not to arouse suspicion about his real motivations. The movie becomes very enjoyable when it accumulates misunderstandings and embarrassing situations linked with Louis' job as a waiter or Antoine's sentimental trouble which the latter tries to escape by hilarious means (check the sequences in the Chinese restaurant). The scenario is also interspersed with droll lines: "how do you find the chicken? Dead".
A threesome of actors serves the film. Daniel Auteuil is able to provide enough caliber to his character to watch the film until the tail end and I would like to congratulate the user "writer's reign" for the tasty pun he inserted in his review: "maitre d'Auteuil". José Garcia who earlier showed in his career that he could hold comical as well as dramatic roles (Philippe Harel's "Extension Du Domaine De la Lutte, 1999) shines as the neurotic, wound up Louis, indirectly responsible of Antoine's mishaps. At last, Sandrine Kiberlain, a little frail, naive but the director never ridicules her. She was ideally cast as Blanche. In French, this name is also an adjective which means white and the actress has a somewhat pallid face which suits well to both the name and the personality of her character.
If the director honed his work with a palpable painstaking care for much of his work, there are little setbacks towards the end of the road. The end is thoroughly unexpected but was made in a rush and the trick of the lighter has been seen many times before. But these flaws aren't major enough to reject Salvadori's film. So, "Après Vous" and enjoy your film!
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