American viewers who know Patrice Leconte for his stylish thrillers (Monsieur Hire) and cool-as-a-cucumber character studies (The Man on the Train) might be somewhat confused by the French director’s latest endeavor. A farce about an antiques dealer (Auteuil) who must prove he has a best friend or forfeit a priceless vase? And since the self-absorbed, socially awkward workaholic doesn’t have any pals to speak of, he pays a garrulous taxi driver (Boon) to teach him the art of making nice with people? (No credit for guessing who’ll form a mutual-admiration society before the end credits.) Did I just stumble into a schlocky Francis Veber movie by accident?
To be fair, there’s a sizable chunk of Leconte’s work—mostly popular comedies that run the gamut from slapstick to sophisticated—to which we haven’t been privy, which is why this breezy, wispy little work may seem atypical. Once you get past that hump, it’s easier to appreciate My Best Friend for what it is—namely, a high-end Gallic buddy movie whose leads display genuine charm and chemistry. The director hasn’t lost his knack for using color and space effectively, either; you just hope that he harnesses his gifts to something a little less slight the next time out.
Cast and crew