François Pignon, a very bland sort of man who works as an accountant in a rubber factory, is about to be fired. His new neighbour comes up with an idea to prevent such a thing to happen: he spreads the rumor that he's gay so that the factory management might be afraid they'll be sued for sexual discrimination. Of course, nothing happens as it should, but the changes in François Pignon's life -and other people's too- is drastic !Written by
A nicely comic film a little slight and lacking in any big laughs but it is interesting as well as consistently amusing
Francois Pignon is a shy, unassuming accountant in a French rubber manufacturing firm. With redundancies on the way, he knows that, because he is not respected by his boss or colleagues, that he will be the first one out the door. After a discussion with his new neighbour, Pignon fabricates photographs that make himself look undeniably gay thus preventing his employers from sacking him without making it look like they did it due to his sexuality. When he 'comes out', the rumours start but his job is safe in fact, the management move to clamp down on the behaviour of one of the management team who is homophobic. Worried for his own job due to his warning, Felix Santini is convinced that, in order to fit with the company line on homosexuality, he must be especially nice to Pignon and show how modern he is. However this only serves to create more misunderstandings within the workplace.
With the natural American remake surely only a matter of years away, I was glad that I had the chance to see this film before the remake rather that afterwards. Able to view it as an original piece of work without any other spin, I found it to be a rather charming little film slight and lacking real bite but still providing gentle laughs and subtle comment. The plot allows for the film to look at the way that homosexuality has changed over the decades to the point now where it is acceptable and yet still looked down upon (but not openly in public that is not PC!). It also manages to bring in other threads involving Felix's homophobia, a thread that starts out being very funny but later becomes quite touching and delicate. It never really gets very convincing as a serious plot or a real sharp commentary but it is a light comedy I didn't expect it to. A heavier plot would have spoilt the enjoyable light mood the film had which does manage to turn a little more serious towards the end without losing the comic spirit it had early on.
Veber is a good comic direction and I have liked several of his films that I have seen. Here he brings together a good cast to build on his witty script. Auteuil is, as he often is, very good. A comic little fool that grows on the audience and develops as a person over the duration of the film, he plays it well and is nicely understated I hate to think how Hollywood will deal with a character pretending to be gay: terrible camp clichés (Will & Grace, Birdcage) will be much more likely than anything else. Depardieu was a surprise find but he was also very good starting out in a very comic role at first but skilfully making more of it and making the changes to his character pretty convincing. Support from Lhermitte, Laroque, Aumont and others are all good but the film is easily stolen by Auteuil and Depardieu.
Overall a very enjoyable little film that has a good comic tone as well as an interesting story. Never consistently hilarious or going too much the other way to be pointed and political, it judges the mood just right and has a bit of both, producing a balanced film that, despite being a little slight in several regards, is enjoyable and interesting I hope the inevitable remake can do it justice.
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