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  Après Vous... Don't Go
Year: 2003
Director: Pierre Salvadori
Stars: Daniel Auteuil, José Garcia, Sandrine Kiberlain, Marilyne Canto, Michèle Moretti, Garance Clavel, Fabio Zenoni, Jocelyne Desverchère, Didier Menin, Jean-Claude Lecas, Blandine Pélissier, Andrée Tainsy
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Antoine (Daniel Auteuil) is a head waiter who tonight is late for an engagement with his girlfriend Christine (Marilyne Canto) as he is so dedicated to his job. He eventually manages to get away, but when he arrives at the park they were supposed to meet in, he finds the gate closed and locked, so he climbs over and rushes up the path. However, on his way he is shocked to catch sight of a man standing on a suitcase under a tree - a tree that he has attached a rope to one of its branches and is about to hang himself from. Antoine runs over and seizes the man before he can kill himself, not realising he has made a new friend tonight...

Or is it that he now has a new responsibility? Après Vous... starts out as a blackly comedic look at how if you decide to do someone a favour then it may well lead to you looking after them for longer than you anticipated, as events spiral in a convoluted manner into a collection of half-truths and good deeds gone awry. It then resolves itself into a less interesting romantic storyline, but the goodwill the first half generates means you are keen to see how on earth Antoine will work out all the problems he has contrived for himself in his civic-mindedness, and there's always the ever-reliable Auteuil to enjoy if the narrative gets overstretched.

The man Antoine saves is Louis (José Garcia), who it's safe to say is a troubled soul, all the more so after his breakup with the love of his life, Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain). This was why he was about to do himself in, as he had nobody to love and no prospects, but with the intervention of the waiter he finds he might have something to live for as he is dragged out of his suicidal gloom whether he wants to be or not. The earlier scenes are the funniest, with Antoine roped into not only providing Louis with somewhere to stay - at his place, as it turns out - but also intercepting a letter Louis has written to his grandparents (Antoine stops them reading it, but the encounter doesn't necessarily end well) and offering him a job at his place of work.

What Louis really needs is someone to love, and instead of sending him to a psychiatrist which he probably should have done, his new pal decides to do it all himself - that feeling of responsibility again, as if the act of saving someone's life means you must guide them thereafter, even if you're both strangers. While director Pierre Salvadori seems uncomfortable with delving too deeply into mental health problems, he does have a knack for mining light comedy out of potentially unpromising material, and if the relationship at the film's heart is never as touching as it should really have been, then it does warm the cockles of your heart nevertheless.

Of course, there's a complication, yes, another one, when Antoine sees that he must be the man to bring Louis and Blanche back together. She is a florist, which leads him to buying a huge amount of flowers from her as an excuse to get to know her and find out how he can help - after all, he has secured Louis a job at the restaurant where despite a shaky start he is improving as the wine waiter. There then develops a plot twist that risks losing audience sympathy when in his machinations Antoine falls for Blanche and she for him, but it's never so heavy that you're turned away from it completely. Antoine would save everyone a lot of trouble, including himself, if he could tell the truth, but he's not deliberately lying, it's simply the way he deals with people and his determination not to hurt anyone's feelings gets him tied in knots. The ending might be troubling if you dwell on it (what does Louis do next?), but Après Vous... is pleasant enough. Music by Camille Bazbaz.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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