The Closet (Le Placard)

"Very Good"

The Closet (Le Placard) Review


Although Francis Veber's "The Closet" is billed as a comedy, it's not clear at first what sense of humor it might have. The prolific French director has been known to make screwball comedies ("Le jouet"), social commentary comedies ("La cage aux folles") and even cruel, dark comedies ("Le diner des cons," aka "The Dinner Game").

Since "The Closet" is about a miserably-divorced, middle-aged, middle-management sad sack (Daniel Auteuil), all the early indicators pointed to it being one of those melancholy, sad-clown French comedies that have a tendency to become quickly tiresome.

Auteuil wakes up the morning after learning he's about to be fired and stares dejectedly out his large kitchen window like nothing more could go wrong in his life.

Then in a genre-defining slapstick moment worthy of a Charlie Chaplin flick, his morning toast pops out of the toaster -- and shoots right out the open window. Auteuil doesn't even blink. He just stares at the wall, one cheek of his long face cupped pathetically in an upturned palm.

"The Closet" gets really nutty after his gay next door neighbor (Michel Aumont) suggests Auteuil partake in a bit of deception to save his job: Let word leak out that he's homosexual (which he's not) in such a public way that the company (which makes condoms) would not only fear a discrimination lawsuit if they let him go, but also risk the backlash of a key consumer demographic besides.

Of course a sit-commy plot like this doesn't come without its complications. Auteuil keeps his job but the company now expects him to ride their gay pride parade float -- with a condom-shaped hat on his head. Women in the office are suddenly attracted to him as a challenge for seduction. His disaffected, cynical teenage son suddenly finds him fascinating and cool. The ex-wife he's still in love with is suddenly interested in figuring out what makes him tick.

But funniest of all is the obnoxiously macho, dumb lug co-worker (Gerard Depardieu in a hilariously uncouth performance) who now thinks his own job is in jeopardy if he doesn't suck up to our hero. He does so by nervously taking Auteuil out to dinner, buying him a pink cashmere sweater and making other gestures that give the entirely wrong impression.

Veber, who also wrote the screenplay, nimbly weaves some sincere castigations of homophobia (gay-bashers mug Auteuil after seeing him pick up his son from school and concluding he's a pedophile) in with the steady parade of smart, gut-busting gags. But he isn't afraid to paint outside the lines of political correctness at the same time, angling for subversive laughs from the blatantly prejudiced dialogue of Depardieu and other bigots.

However, it's Auteuil's droll yet measured performance as the comedy's straight man (so to speak) -- an insincere office sycophant suddenly empowered by his fabricated "outing" -- that gives "The Closet" the sympathetic warmth it needs to be so rambunctiously, amusingly indiscriminate with its wit.

Veber has no qualms about selling remake rights to Hollywood ("The Toy," "The Man With One Red Shoe," "Quick Change," "Three Fugitives," "The Birdcage," "Fathers Day,"), often with disastrous results. So see "The Closet" now before somebody ruins an American version by casting Robin Williams and scrubbing clean all its wanton wackiness.



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: Gaumont, EFVE, TF1 Films Production, Canal+

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as François Pignon, as Félix Santini, as Guillaume, the Director of Public Relations, as Miss Bertrand, as Belone, le voisin de Pignon, as Kopel, le directeur de l'usine, as Christine, as Franck, Edgar Givry as Mathieu, Thierry Ashanti as Victor, Irina Ninova as Martine, Marianne Groves as Suzanne, as Madame Santini, Luq Hamett as Moreau, Philippe Brigaud as Lambert, Vincent Moscato as Ponce, Eric Vanzetta as Le maitre d'hôtel, Laurent Gamelon as Alba, Michel Caccia as Le sommelier, Armelle Deutsch as Ariane

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Advertisement
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.