Catherine, refuses to believe that her business partner, the unlikeable François, has a best friend, so she challenges him to set up an introduction. Scrambling to find someone willing to pose as his best pal, François enlists the services of a charming taxi driver to play the part.
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François is a middle-aged antique dealer. He has a stylish apartment and a fabulous life, but at a dinner with a group he considers his dearest acquaintances, he is blindsided by the revelation that none of them actually likes him. He's arrogant, self-centered and harsh, and they don't believe he knows the meaning of friendship. His business partner Catherine makes him a bet: if he can produce his best friend, she will let him keep the massive Greek vase he acquired that afternoon on the company tab. If not, it's hers. Having accepted the wager, François naively tears through his address book, trying to shoehorn an increasingly unlikely series of contacts into the all-important role. Moving through Paris, he keeps encountering a trivia-spouting, big-hearted cabbie named Bruno. Bruno's chatty, lowbrow ways grate against François's designer temperament, but he covets the other man's easy way with people. He convinces Bruno to teach him how to make friends and sets about learning the "... Written by
Some are lucky to have so many friends that identifying a best friend is not easy; others have none. Francois (Daniel Auteuil) makes a bet with his business partner, Catherine (Julie Gayet), and friends at his birthday dinner that within ten days he can show them his best friend. They are confident he cannot.
A simple premise, a simple bet most of us could win given the same amount of time. Patrice Laconte in My Best Friend has once again created a sometime two-hander in which Francoise engages an outgoing cabbie, Bruno (Dany Boon), to help him identify the traits of a best friend and subsequently dredge said friend out of Francoise's past or present. The film is spent largely on the search, smoothly humorous and poignant in tracing the growing friendship between the two hunters and revealing the vagaries of any friendship, best or regular.
The notion of the challenge inherent in the bet is carefully parsed with a series of characters and incidents that do more to define who Francoise is as a human being than who that uber friend might be. The leitmotif best exemplifying the fragile and elusive nature of best friendship is an expensive antique vase dealer Francoise buys on impulse and becomes the prize for the bet. There's a parallel between the vase and the friendship that could easily be drawn by a discerning, often European audience. Another avenue of exploring the meaning of friendship is the competition on the French version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Americans should take notice of the film's excellence at this point.
Another sub theme comes in the relationship between Francoise and his business partner, an attractive woman with multiple challenging friendships herself. And then the other friends at the party. Everyone, it seems, must deal with friendship, whether in a bet or reality.
For some Americans, the whole idea of deconstructing friendship in a movie might be uncomfortable and boring. In the hands of a master director, it is amusing and shocking.
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