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  My Best Friend Good Companions
Year: 2006
Director: Patrice Leconte
Stars: Daniel Auteuil, Dany Boon, Julie Gayet, Julie Durand, Jacques Mathou, Marie Pillet, Élizabeth Bourgine, Henri Garcin, Jacques Speisser, Philippe Du Janerand, Fabienne Chaudat
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: François Coste (Daniel Auteuil) is an art dealer who does very well at his job, probably because that's all he cares about. For example, he attends a funeral today not due to the mourning he feels, but because he wants to secure the deceased's valuable bureau from his family before they sell it off and realise how expensive it actually is. When he goes to an auction later that day, however, he is swept up in the sale of an Ancient Greek vase as it represents something he recognises deep down that he does not have: friendship. This is brought home when his business associate, Catherine (Julie Gayet) points it out to him at dinner that evening...

Therefore the central idea that powers the plot springs into action - well, not so much springs as shuffles up to its mark, for My Best Friend (or Mon meilleur ami if you were French) takes its time in coming to the boil. But the idea is a good one for a comedy, with a touch of the high concept about it: François must find a best friend to show off to his business partners, or he will lose a lucrative bet. However, director Patrice Leconte and his fellow writers didn't seem too clear on whether this was to be played for laughs or whether it was in fact a drama to tug the heartstrings. Whichever, they do manage to strike a balance that is not as awkward as you might have feared.

But as I say, it takes a good third of a ninety minute movie for all the pieces to fall into place, and Leconte risks losing the audience's interest. They will be rewarded when the relationship between François and a taxi driver he keeps meeting pays dramatic and comedic dividends, however. The taxi driver is Bruno (Dany Boon), a receptacle of trivia who dreams of getting on television to reveal what he's made of in a quiz show, but most people end up bored with his tendency to ramble on with his endless stream of facts. So Bruno could do with a pal as well, and after a few thwarted attempts of the art dealer to find someone who likes him, he has a brainwave.

That being, get Bruno to coach him in friend-finding and being sociable, but we can see where this is going and before long it is Bruno who is his mate. Yet all is not good, for François is not necessarily a changed man now he has someone who enjoys his company, and that old cliché that has characters breaking up because "You went out with me for a bet? How dare you!" is given a fresh lick of paint to be applied to male bonding. Bruno feels betrayed when he discovers why his companionship was so important to François, but we can tell that the dealer had authentic reasons for having him around that went beyond saving face and saving money.

Slumdog Millionaire became celebrated throughout the world for using television quiz show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? as an integral part of its plot, but My Best Friend got there first two years before. Bruno has been passed over for appearing on TV many times because he gets so nervous under pressure, but somehow, in a convenient twist, he gets a place on the famous general knowledge programme. If you know the rules, and the catchphrases for that matter, then you can see where this is headed, but if this part feels gimmicky, it's a neat way to prove to the two men that their connection went beyond the selfishness of François and they could really do each other good if they allowed their friendship to get over this hurdle. Not especially profound, then, but it's a film that values the benevolent attachments that the lead character understands he has been capable of all the time. Music by Xavier Demerliac.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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