Apres Vous... (2003) / Comedy-Romance
aka After You
MPAA Rated: R for language (I'd rate it PG-13, despite the few F words)
Running Time: 110 min.
Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Jose Garcia, Sandrine Kiberlain, Marilyne Canto, Michelle Moretti, Garance Clavel
Director: Pierre Salvadori
Screenplay: Benoit Graffin, David Leotard, Pierre Salvadori
Review published November 18, 2005
Funny, until it eventually goes astray as it draws closer to its dubious ending, Apres Vous is light and amusing enough to keep the interest of those that typically enjoy French comedies. It's especially recommended for fans of Daniel Auteuil (The Closet), and if the film works at all, it is entirely due to his subtle and mannered performance.
The plot isn't anything fresh as these sorts of movies go. The film starts off with Antoine (Auteuil), a head waiter in a restaurant in France, stumbling across a stranger (Garcia, Dead Weight) that is trying to hang himself in a local park one evening. Antoine saves the man from certain death, inviting him home to stay until he can pick up his spirits. He finds out the man's name is Louis, and he is suicidal because the love of his life, Blanche (Kiberlain, L'Appartement), has broken up with him. Antoine feels for the man, and spares every effort to try to make him happy again, setting him up with a job at the restaurant he works in, while also looking for Blanche in an effort to set up reconciliation. Trouble is, Blanche already has found a new boyfriend and is planning on wedding soon.
As alluded to in the first paragraph, Apres Vous's strengths primarily lie in its casting. In addition to the always solid Auteuil, there is also an especially funny, if sometimes disturbing, portrayal of a neurotic lover by Jose Garcia. As you'd expect in any French romance, there is a level of sophistication that works well for the story, with an especially refreshing look into the world of sommeliers, the restaurant employees that are experts in wines and which ones make the best pairings with certain dishes.
As long as Auteuil and Garcia are playing off of each other, the film works well. Eventually, the romantic entanglements do start to get a bit tricky, until things get to a point where it seems that a happy resolution is probably too much to ask for. That doesn't keep the screenwriters from trying anyway, as a very contrived happy ending is forced upon us, whether we like it or not, although it appears that, like the remake of Sabrina, the ending is fitted to the star power of the actors rather than the likeability of the characters themselves.
Apres Vous has enough going for it to earn a recommendation for those that enjoy light romantic farces. Viewers that aren't keen on such films will probably find it somewhat dry and slow in getting to the point of the matter. Salvadori's (Les Apprentis, Wild Target) lackadaisical approach definitely needed some tuning up for this farce to have crackled with good humor. Still, there are enough funny moments to claim it a worthwhile experience, despite the fickle nature of the main characters not exactly suited for a convincing romance.
©2005 Vince Leo