The Closet (2001) / Comedy
aka Le Placard
MPAA Rated: R for sexual content and language
Running Time: 84 min.
Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte, Michelle Laroque, Michel Aumont
Director: Francis Veber
Screenplay: Francis Veber
Review published September 29, 2005
Francis Veber follows up his highly successful The Dinner Game with another funny and intelligent comedy, The Closet (aka Le Placard). Coincidentally, both films have a character named Francois Pignon in the title role; however, this time the tables are turned, and Pignon is the one who fools everyone, instead of the joke being on him.
Daniel Auteuil (Jean de Florette, Manon of the Spring) is the one who plays Pignon, who is still depressed about being left by his wife and son, who find him an unbearable bore. Now he is pegged as the accountant to get the axe at work, and with a life so pathetic, Pignon contemplates giving up life altogether. Saving the day is his new neighbor in the apartment building, Belone (Aumont, ComDads), who concocts a scheme to save his job whereby some photographs are doctored putting Pignon's head on a gay man's body, with some racy photos taken at a gay bar. The photos are leaked to Pignon's office, and soon the grapevine is filled with stories of Pignon's homosexuality. The president of the company, fearing a scandal for firing a homosexual, keeps Pignon on board, and soon his life makes a u-turn, now that everyone thinks he isn't so boring after all.
Although at its core, the film deals with some serious issues, such as discrimination of homosexuals, and on the other hand, how companies bend over backwards for them so they will not be seen as the instigators of such discrimination, Veber wisely eschews any political grandstanding, using the political correctness situation purely as a device for a farcical office comedy romp. As such, the film is successful in maintaining a pleasant tone thanks to the knowing writing and skillful direction, and even such acts as a man who is beaten or called vulgar names for his sexual preference are merely part of the hilarity, where it could have been too serious or distasteful in the hands of someone with less skill.
The Closet features an impressive big name French cast, and should please the fans of all the actors involved. It's recommended for those who like office comedies, political correctness farces, or just want a plain old pleasant time to spend an hour and a half. Watch it before it gets remade by Hollywood for the worse.
©2005 Vince Leo