After the vaporous whimsy of Avenue Montaigne and now the drippy antics of The Valet, Paris really could use more Gaspar Noé leather infernos. The film’s schmo protagonist, François (Gad Elmaleh), is introduced parking the kind of posh car that he, as a struggling valet, is always around but can never possess; the rest of Francis Veber’s glorified sitcom is basically a variation on that joke, only with a micro-skirted supermodel filling in for a Ferrari. When industrialist Pierre (Daniel Auteuil) is photographed with his longtime mistress, fashion-plate Elena (Alice Taglioni), he covers his ass by telling his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) that the gorgeous blonde was not with him but with the passerby next to them in the tabloid snapshot—who, in the kind of obvious comic twist the picture provides by the truckload, turns out to be François. Pierre pays for François and Elena to pose as lovebirds in order to make the charade stick, though when she moves into the valet’s rundown flat and they have to share a bed, complications involving François’s true love (Virginie Ledoyen) and Pierre’s own jealousy duly arise. A seasoned purveyor of farcical charades, Veber knows how a smooth delivery can camouflage a mediocre punchline, and he’s helped immensely by the impeccable modulations of Auteuil and Scott Thomas. The double-takes triggered by an Amazonian socialite cuddling with a nerdy prole hints at how notions of beauty dovetail into social strata, but the comic machinations reduce the characters to well-lubricated marionettes, lacking the randy sweetness of, say, Shallow Hal. Incidentally, the Farrelly Brothers are reportedly set to remake The Valet, hopefully adding the humanity Verber left out in the process.
- Sony Pictures Classics
- 83 min
- Francis Veber
- Francis Veber
- Gad Elmaleh, Alice Taglioni, Daniel Auteuil, Kristin Scott Thomas, Richard Berry, Virginie Ledoyen, Dany Boon, Michel Jonasz, Michel Aumont, Laurent Gamelon, Patrick Mille, Michèle Garcia, Philippe Magnan
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