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.
- Paramount Classics
- 110 min
- Pierre Salvadori
- Benoît Graffin, David Léotard, Pierre Salvadori
- Daniel Auteuil, José Garcia, Sandrine Kiberlain, Maryline Canto, Michèle Moretti, Garance Clavel, Fabio Zenoni, Ange Ruzé, Andrée Tainsy
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: