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Review: Après Vous

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Après Vous

Altruism breeds nothing but trouble for Antoine (Daniel Auteuil), the generous soul at the heart of Pierre Salvadori’s romantic comedy Après Vous. Late for dinner with his girlfriend Christine (Marilyne Canto) because he’s stayed after hours lending a helping hand at his brasserie job, Antoine takes a shortcut through the park and stumbles upon Louis (Jose Garcia), a lovelorn sap whose misery over the loss of his girlfriend Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain) has driven him to suicide. Antoine prevents Louis from hanging himself, yet this compassionate act sets in motion a farcical chain of entangled events in which he, Louis, Blanche, and neglected, unhappy Christine—who rightfully resents how much attention her beau lavishes on strangers—all learn about the true nature of friendship and love. Though it calls for bug-eyed goofiness from Auteuil (a French superstar prone to painful comedic overstatement) and sad-sack mopiness from Garcia, Salvadori’s film stops short of all-out slapstick, a decision that both benefits its romanticism and hinders its already strained humor. Antoine and Louis’s infatuation with Blanche may be woefully contrived—a problem amplified by the blandness of Blanche, a cipher whose demureness is meant to be intoxicating but instead comes across as simply boring—but at least Auteuil and Kiberlain share some sensual chemistry during a silly scene in which their kissing serves as a rebuke to Blanche’s philandering fiancé. In contrast, nearly every joke, ranging from those about spilled wine and misread marriage proposals to a rather repellent instance in which Louis scrawls “Bloody Bitch” on his meddlesome (and sight-impaired) grandmother’s overcoat, feels either underplayed or merely off-key. Salvadori and David Colombo Leotard’s rambling script does manage to pinpoint the off-putting narcissism inherent in Antoine’s selflessness, and the film finds a small measure of drollness in Antoine’s clandestine dinner with Blanche at a Thai restaurant that’s complicated by Christine’s appearance and culminates in a witty exchange between the two-timer and a puzzled stranger. All too often, though, the overly long and monotonous Après Vous serves up the unfunny kind of absurdity.

Cast: Daniel Auteuil, José Garcia, Sandrine Kiberlain, Maryline Canto, Michèle Moretti, Garance Clavel, Fabio Zenoni, Ange Ruzé, Andrée Tainsy Director: Pierre Salvadori Screenwriter: Benoît Graffin, David Léotard, Pierre Salvadori Distributor: Paramount Classics Running Time: 110 min Rating: R Year: 2003 Buy: Video

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