Sunday, 31 May 2009


“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.” - Peter Ustinov

At the weekend we saw a rather amusing French film, Francis Veber’s 2006, “La Doublure” (The Stand-in) – “The Valet” being its English title. This is standard French farce fare, but well acted by the principals Gad Elmaleh who plays the title role of a valet who parks cars for a living (François Pignon). Daniel Auteil playing the rich industrialist Pierre Levaseur, Kristin Scott playing his wife, and Alice Taglioni playing Elena, M. Levaseur’s mistress. The classic bedroom cast of characters is assembled for an entertaining romp, which should not be too critically judged as it makes no pretences about its innate worth. It is made for amusement and delivers some laughs – true, not full bodied belly laughs, but quite a lot of titters and chuckles.

The story concerns the industrialist who has chronically cheated on his wife with beautiful model Elena, who incidentally, loves him deeply. The wife knows about the affair but owns the majority of the shares (so a divorce is not really an option for M. Levaseur). The bumbling industrialist who wants his cake as well eating it, believes all can be bought for money. When his cheating is captured on the camera of a paparazzo, innocent bystander Pignon is commandeered to “stand-in” as the model’s boyfriend. A complicating factor is Pignon’s unrequited love for his childhood sweetheart (who has money problems and is not willing to marry penniless Pignon). M. Levaseur’s money seems to offer a perfect solution, but then things get a little complicated…

Some characters tend to detract form the film, although some people may find them funny. Pignon’s girlfriend’s father (who is a doctor) is one of these characters and the long standing joke of the doctor who is treated by the patients he visits at home runs out of steam after the first time. Pignon’s flatmate is also a little tiresome, as is Pignon’s girlfriend’s slimy suitor (a mobile phone salesman) but I recognise there must be some subplots to maintain interest.

Veber is the writer (as well as director) of this movie and he has also made “The Dinner Game”, “The Closet”, “La Cage Aux Folles”, “Les Fugitifs”, “My Father the Hero” and more such comedies. He has a certain flair for writing and directing farce and this is evident in this particular movie. Of all his movies listed above (and which I have seen) I think I enjoyed “The Dinner Game” the most, which I recommend if you wish to be introduced to the comedy work of this particular moviemaker.

In terms of “La Doublure”, it is overall an amusing film, lightweight and fluffy. If you decide to watch it, don’t look for high art, deeper meanings or guffaws of mirth – rather prepare to be entertained and pass 90 or so minutes quite pleasantly.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like fun. thanks for the review