Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Valet (2007)

Constructed almost entirely from fluff and cotton balls, this cheerful appetizer of a French farce nonetheless managed to provide enough charm and whimsy to provide a pleasant afternoon's entertainment. The main conflict (hapless valet Francois has to fake being the squeeze of famed supermodel Elena) has little tension, but that's more or less by design: The true thrust of The Valet is not the relationship between Francois and Elena or even Francois's stumbling efforts to win over winsome bookseller Émilie (Virginie Ledoyen) but the systematic humbling/stripping-down of arrogant billionaire Pierre (Daniel Auteil). Bringing low the rich and spiteful seems to be a favorite theme of writer/director Francis Veber (The Dinner Game), and the real satisfaction comes not from the farcical setups and punchlines but the simple peace of seeing everyone get exactly that which they deserve. I look at this film like an well-worn pair of shoes -- old as hell and twice as dusty, but somehow there's a level of comfort that makes you feel good no matter how cracked and faded the material is.

Grade: B-


Blogger Paul C. said...

Wish I could be this forgiving to this, but it just wasn't funny to me. Like, at all. Everyone tries hard, but for naught. And that's death to a comedy, since when you're laughing you overlook the movie's other flaws, but when you're not laughing you don't have anything better to do. I've seen three Veber movies, and unless I get wind of a majorly awesome movie from him in the future, I'm more or less done with the guy.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

This is actually the only Veber I've yet seen (I had The Dinner Game taped for a few years but lost it in one of my myriad moves), and extrapolating what I saw here and what I've read about his other works, you'll be comfortably done -- I rather doubt Veber has an awesome work in him. He's too laid back.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Paul C. said...

Yeah, he doesn't strike me as one of those dudes like, say, Carlos Reygadas, who has talent to burn but needs to work through some stuff before he can make a masterpiece. Veber's just too fluffy and inconsequential- by design of course, but he lacks the brilliance or the bite to turn his movies into anything but fluff.

4:52 PM  

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