Monday, 28 April 2008


“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” - Henry Ford

We watched a wonderful French movie at the weekend. It was Patrice Leconte’s “My Best Friend” (2006 ), a tragicomedic film which makes a important comment about modern society. The basic premise of the film is how we view friendship in today’s world and how we define that most elusive of relationships: “My best Friend”…

The movie begins at a funeral which is very sparsely attended and in which Monsieur François Coste (Daniel Auteuil), an antiques dealer, finds himself because he has unfinished business with the deceased and wishes to close a deal with the widow, even at a funeral. This puts François’ character in context and makes the viewer of the film regard him as a anti-hero.

François superficially seems to have a perfect life: A young daughter doing well at her studies at University, a girlfriend who seems to love him, a successful business with an astute partner (Catherine played by Julie Gayet), an engagement calendar full of lunch dates and meetings with business associates. However, despite this seemingly perfect existence, François realizes that he has serious gaps in his life.

The pivotal point is the whimsical purchase of an ancient Greek vase at auction, which François buys, even though it is not the sort of thing he trades in, and it is something he and his business cannot afford, and it is against the wishes of Catherine, his partner. The vas is special because it is a funerary offering of one man to the memory of is dearest and best friend. At a dinner with his associates he is hit with the hard truth that none of these people, would come to his funeral. He is forced to admit that not only does he have no friends but also that no one likes him.

Being arrogant, and egotistical, valuing “things” more than people, he denies that he has no friends, and in a silly bet, accepts a challenge from Catherine to prove this hard truth false. The prize is the Greek vase. In the process of finding a "best friend" within 10 days, to win the bet, Coste learns what friendship means, and just how wrong he really was in his values. Instrumental in François’ epiphany is a taxi driver called Bruno (Dany Boon) who is the catalyst in François’ change of character and life.

The film is not amongst the best of Leconte, but it is warm, engaging, earnest, and with the right mixture of comedy and drama, making for satisfying viewing. The acting is very good, restrained and almost phlegmatic in parts, but nevertheless expressive and moving. Highly recommended film!

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