Volume 3, Number 33
This Week's Reviews: American Pie 2, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Rat Race, Lost and Delirious, Our Song, The Closet.
This Week's Omissions: American Outlaws.
|American Pie 2
(Dir: J.B. Rogers, Starring Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Alyson Hannigan, Shannon Elizabeth, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, Natasha Lyonne, Eugene Levy, Molly Cheek, Chris Owen, and Jennifer Coolidge)
BY: DAVID PERRY
The summer of 2001 could very well be remembered as the season of sequels -- no other summer in recent memory has been filled with as many sequels and remakes. Oh, the hours that I have lost revisiting The Mummy, Dr. Dolittle, Scary Movie, and Rush Hour -- each film was a chance to regret even sitting through the predecessors (for the record, though, Scary Movie was the only one that I liked in the first place). Who would have thought Jurassic Park III would be the best sequel of the 2001 lineup?
This is still true with the return to American Pie. Les directeurs de sibling incompetents have returned after the dismal Down to Earth (itself a remake of Heaven Can Wait -- if not for some foreign films and Memento, I'd come near stating that all good ideas for films are officially used) to grace the world with another absolutely horrible film to add onto their filmography. It pains me to this day that they will forever have the little support of Chuck & Buck fans who don't know that they have a highly lucrative yet artistically flaccid career in Hollywood.
The Weitz Brothers, err, les directeurs de sibling incompetents only executive produce American Pie 2, yet it still stinks of their miscalculation of nearly every facet in comedic filmmaking. Perhaps that stench, though, should be credited to the new director, the equally untalented J.B. Rogers, who was kind enough to grace us with Say It Isn't So earlier this year. The retread of previous material found in Adam Herz and David H. Steinberg's script could also be the damning factor, yet something tells me that this is a case of too many untrained chefs on what is ostensibly a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The kids that audiences met and embraced two years ago in the sleeper hit American Pie return in this film for the summer after their first year in college. That's right, it's been an entire year for drinking, breeding, and all-around debauchery -- and all these horny kids can't wait to get back home where their bedfellows are more, well, time-tested and mother approved.
The main interest of American Pie was in finally having sex -- its four protagonists had waited four years through high school for the moment that their long years of abstinence would finally pay off. Now, each one has had sex at least once through their part in the first film -- that's where American Pie 2 veers a little, it is a little more about the abstaining for the "right-one" than the other. True love is the name of the game in this tale -- sounds like this film might actually be the step-up the ladder hoped for.
Well, that's not the case. While the idea is better than the Porky's inspired (though, inspired is rarely a word that fits in a sentence with Porky's) antics found in the first American Pie, this second round lacks anything funny to speak of. There were a few little laughs here and there in American Pie; American Pie 2, though, fails to create anything that is remotely funny. I laughed once, smiled twice -- that's not necessarily what I call the recipe for a great comedy.
The four leads of the original plus one of the old supporting players decide that the best thing to do to have the best college summer imaginable is to get a lakeside cabin and throw constant parties. Each one has a problem of some sorts: Jim (Biggs) is having performance anxiety leading up to a visit from dream girl Nadia (Elizabeth), Oz (Klein) must spend the entire summer without the companionship of vacationing girlfriend Heather (Suvari), Kevin (Nicholas) must come to terms that ex-girlfriend Vicky (Reid) has moved on while he hasn't, Finch (Thomas) is at work on tantric rituals to edge his desires for his older woman, and Stifler (Scott) is just yearning to get laid.
Amidst all this are a couple long attempts at situation comedy -- a breaking and entering on a lesbian couple is especially tedious -- and bathroom humor all-around. Unfortunately, this is not the same lowbrow comedy that worked on Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and There's Something About Mary. American Pie 2 is more akin to the latter day Farrelly's, who have brought us, in one capacity or another, Say It Isn't So, Me, Myself & Irene, Outside Providence, and Osmosis Jones. Nevertheless, even though this is a poor period in the Farrelly Brother's careers, I'd say the Weitz's have a nice grasp on the les directeurs de sibling incompetents nickname.
It's pretty hard to find anything to laugh about when the
film's key jokes involve people being covered in urine and a person super gluing his hand
to his penis. Even today's lackluster Farrelly Brothers would have passed on these lame
excuses for gross-out humor. For a film that successfully comes up with an idea that might
work as a counter to its predecessor, the filmmakers seem consistently happy to turn to
the lowest of lowbrow humor. There is no thinly veiled attempt at Marxist propaganda, no
loud cinematic rallying cry to turn America's teens into an indestructible army, and yet American
Pie 2 seems offensive in some way. It's not necessarily that it means to offend that
takes me aback, but instead that it seems so happy to pander.
|Captain Corelli's Mandolin
(Dir: John Madden, Starring Penélope Cruz, Nicolas Cage, John Hurt, Christian Bale, David Morrissey, Irene Papas, Patrick Malahide, Aspasia Kralli, Mihalis Giannatos, Gerasimos Skiadaressis, and Dimitris Kamperidis)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Every year we see the release of some dramatically lifeless film come out with the crutch of having some beautifully scenery. I call it the Merchant-Ivory curse -- the great films in their early oeuvre has left many producers intent on creating films that can compare in sets, costumes, and big-name actors but cannot hold a candle to Merchant-Ivory's ability to bring fine period literature to the screen.
This year is an odd year -- we've already had two lackluster period dramas including this year's Merchant-Ivory film, The Golden Bowl. With Merchant-Ivory finally lowering their own bar, it seems that everyone else is too. Not only does Marleen Gorris' The Luzhin Defence join the genre of disrepute, but so does John Madden's Captain Corelli's Mandolin. It is a film so crutched by beautiful Greek scenery that it is almost hard to remember how poor the main story is. Keyword: almost.
The film follows the love-at-first-sight puppy dog relationship between Captain Antonio Corelli (Cage) and Pelagia (Cruz). He is an Italian officer stationed in Greece during the Second World War and she is a young girl in the town that takes his breath away. He loves her the minute he sees her, but she cannot really understand her emotions: not only is she somewhat driven to a soldier in the enemy's forces but she also has a fiancé currently fighting the Italians to keep Greece free from their rule. That fiancé, Mandras (Bale), comes home from fighting and is a changed man -- his hatred of the Italians is not helped by the fact that there is an Italian stationed inside his future wife's home and that this particular threat to the nation may also be a threat to his marriage.
All the while, we learn the dynamics of Corelli's and the Italian's feelings on this war. Their local German officer, Captain Gunther Weber (Morrissey), is often ashamed of the more party-going soldiers he must watch over because his leader does not completely trust Mussolini's men. When fighting actually does break out -- though, the fighting is not against their actual enemies -- the division becomes even more apparent, as does Corelli's absolute nationalistic integrity.
The film does not falter because it makes some wrong turns -- it falters because it just does not sit well. With two main plots that do not feel interdependent in any way, the film seems to sluggishly move along plot points as the audience waits for something to happen in one of the two stories. This is no Saving Private Ryan -- Spielberg had the common sense not to muddle his history with romantic drama. Nor is this From Here to Eternity -- Zinnemann knew that his characters' relationships welcomed a historic backdrop, not needed it.
The cast does try their best, though it's not anyone's best work. Beyond an absolutely horrible Italian accent, Nicholas Cage delivers a performance that works. Here's no Leaving Las Vegas or Bringing Out the Dead performance, but this work is definitely better than stuff like Con Air and 8mm. He's not going to get an Oscar nomination for this film, but at least people cannot spend the next year making fun of a bad line in the same vein as Con Air's "Put the bunny back in the box."
My continual disdain over Penélope Cruz in English language films continues with this work, though it does show some improvements over her last performances in the states. She still has a seemingly out-of-place style here, but the final feeling is not the same lack of interest that came with All the Pretty Horses, Blow, and Woman on Top. Things should be much better with her next performance -- she's returning to her role from Open Your Eyes in Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky.
The only real performance that is simply exquisite is the slow, yet rewarding work from John Hurt as Pelagia's father. It's been four years since he delivered Giles De'Ath in Love and Death on Long Island and a supporting role in Contact, making many people, myself included, think that we were about to see a return to the fore from Hurt. That, of course, did not happen -- most of his recent works have been in completely forgettable or inaccessible films -- but he is here now and, though we cannot ensure that he'll remain on top for long, he has a part in the much anticipated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone coming up.
But, after the audience has mulled over the fine
performances and the dull drama, the real memory from Captain Corelli's Mandolin
is in its beautiful scenery. Greece is shown as a remarkable destination and nearly
everyone seeing the film will want to jump on a plane to Greece almost immediately after
the film is over. Sure, the movie may not work as a drama, but it's a fine tourist video.
(Dir: Jerry Zucker, Starring Breckin Meyer, Whoopi Goldberg, Lanei Chapman, Seth Green, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jon Lovitz, Vince Vieluf, Amy Smart, Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Dave Thomas, Silas Weir Mitchell, Wayne Knight, Kathy Najimy, Brody Smith, Jillian Marie, and Kathy Bates)
BY: DAVID PERRY
It has been 15 years since the last film from the ZAZ team, brothers David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams. David and Jim have since continued in the ZAZ tradition -- though their solo works, including David's The Naked Gun and Jim's Hot Shots!, have not been able to compare to Airplane!, the landmark ZAZ film -- but Jerry into new territory. 1990's Ghost and 1995's First Knight were his mediocre yet respectable attempts at crossing genres. The new film Rat Race is the first time Jerry Zucker has tackled comedy since Ruthless People -- looking at the other two's last efforts (David brought us BASEketball and Jim brought us Jane Austen's Mafia!), it's delightful to see something funny come from a ZAZ team member.
Rat Race may not be the film that it aspires to be -- a constant laugh riot -- but it does hold something of interest: it proves that there is still some good jokes still running through the veins of one of the three men. Jerry Zucker may be the more dramatically driven filmmaker in the ZAZ team, but he also happens to be the only one to create something that is at least worthwhile in the last five years.
Rat Race is a retooling of one of the finest big-budget comedies ever made. Stanley Kramer's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World happens to be one of my favorite comedies -- I grew up with the film, I'd say that my childhood comedies were mainly it and The Pink Panther. So, I was a little weary of sitting through a film attempting to recreate the magic of the original (and not even crediting its basis), but the surprise is that Rat Race brings in its own guffaws without cramping the original's style.
Once again, the film follows a group of people all racing to get a small fortune before the others can make it. This time around, though, the scenario is that affluent Las Vegas gambler Donald Sinclair (Cleese) has come up with a new game to have high-rollers bet on: a horse race with humans. He has placed $2 million in a Silver City, NM, train station locker, given six people keys, and let his associates begin betting on who'll get to the money first.
He does not just go out and choose these six individuals; they are all people that happened to get a special coin in one of his casino's slot machines. And, as this form of picking would involve, he gets a group of people absolutely absorbed in getting this payday. None of them really need the money -- this is not a question of poor man taking on rich man -- they just really want the money because, well, wouldn't anybody?
Nick Shaffer (Meyer) is a clean-cut lawyer in Vegas for a wedding. He normally would have nothing to do with anything as unseemly as gambling -- it might tarnish a future political bid -- but some edging from friends finally breaks him and causes his change to go into a slot machine. Moments later, he is strapped into a helicopter with young pilot Tracy Faucet (Smart) and sees her air-rage firsthand.
Vera Baker (Goldberg) is a mother who has finally gotten to meet her adopted daughter Merrill Jennings (Chapman). Little does she know that the sweet little girl she imagines is actually a cutthroat businesswoman willing to do anything to get what she ultimately yearns for. They take to the road for this money and encounter some strange folks, including a squirrel saleswoman (Bates) intent on selling her products.
Duane (Green) and Blaine (Vieluf) Cody are two small-time con artists hoping to take in little paydays by doing something as bad as slipping down a set of stairs and suing the hotel (which brings in one of the year's best cameos). Since they have absolutely no principles, they are willing to do anything they can to stop the others and help them get there first, even if that means stopping thousands of people and breaking countless laws in the process.
Owen Templeton (Gooding, Jr.) comes to Vegas in hopes of just getting away from the constant attention brought upon him. In a recent football game he refereed, a coin toss call caused a team to lose the game and many viewers to want his blood. Though coming there is not the best choice when trying to hide, he makes things even worse by going across the west in his underwear and carting a group of Lucille Ball wannabes to a convention just to get to Silver City as soon as possible.
Rounding out the group and taking the least amount of screen time are two rather unusual characters. Randy Pear (Lovitz) is a loser in Vegas on a family trip where his wife Bev (Najimy) has forbid him from gambling. But he still does it and then must lie to them why he is hurriedly driving them to New Mexico. And Enrico Pollini (Atkinson) is an narcoleptic Italian with a certain goofy sensibility that somehow puts him in the same car as a organ transporter (Knight) who is a little to enamored by the heart he is carrying.
Each story has something that is especially funny in its problem-filled journey, though none quite as laugh-at-loud-funny as the Pear family's problems beginning with a visit to the Barbie Museum and ending at a WWII veterans convention. I laughed enough at the jokes in Andrew Breckman's script that I can forgive it of the many missteps that it takes here and there. For every completely unfunny joke, there's one moderately funny and one strong gag around the corner.
At least that's the case until the film comes to an end.
Throughout the film's first 90 minutes, the film has remained amusing, but in the film's
concluding scenes -- all 20 minutes of them -- the laughs come to a complete halt and the
audience must sit in wonderment how the laughs have become such a distant memory. And
then, to add insult to injury, the cast is forced to sing-along to one of the most
abhorrently overplayed songs in film and radio history. I'm not going to disclose the song
simply because it is so close to the end of the film, but it is definitely one of the
film's strongest detractors. And at that moment in the film, with a barrage of unfunny
scenes directly behind it and an ending moral that is simply terrible, the finale can only
leave the audience with a bad taste in their mouths. But, at least, that nasty taste is
better than anything Jerry Zucker's old partners have cooked up recently.
|Lost and Delirious
(Dir: Léa Pool, Starring Piper Perabo, Jessica Paré, Mischa Barton, Jackie Burroughs, Mimi Kuzyk, Graham Greene, Luke Kirby, Caroline Dhavernas, Amy Stewart, Noël Burton, Emily VanCamp, Alan Fawcett, Peter Oldring, and Grace Kung)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Léa Pool's Lost and Delirious seems like another soft-core sex-driven lesbian picture. Some critics, including New York Times' Elvis Mitchell, have dubbed it as nothing more than a big screen afternoon special. But beyond all the gyrating young female bodies and the angst driven motif is a strongly told film about love, anguish, and the in-between. The characters in Pool's film are not simply pawns in a lesson marked story, they are as alive as a cinematic character can be. Within the confines of the story are people that the audience can truly empathize with -- these are not stereotypical caricatures but believable people in a rather credible film.
When the film opens, Mary Bradford (Barton) -- affectionately called Mouse -- is about to be dropped off at a private girl's school by her father and stepmother. She still pains over the death of her mother and lives in a world where her father, who in actuality is more devoted to his new wife than to his daughter, still cares for her unconditionally.
Mouse is placed in a room with Tory (Paré) and Paulie (Perabo), the class princess and the class intellectual, respectively. What she does not know at first -- or understand, for that matter -- is that Tory and Paulie are really lovers. When she first sees them in a passionate embrace, she believes that they are simply practicing for boys. But they let their affections show in the dormitory room and inadvertently allow Mouse to see and hear them on occasion.
But all this comes crumbling to an end when Tory is forced to play things 'straight.' She rebukes the advances of Paulie -- who is now left mending an equally wounded falcon -- and pleads that Mouse help Paulie in getting over her. Tory thinks it's easy to give up on the person she really loves, but Paulie cannot allow it -- for her, love springs eternal.
The lesbian plot seems to be the main reason that anyone would even consider this film to be a nice little piece of Cinemax late night fodder, but watching it draws so much more. Léa Pool has grown as a filmmaker over the years, from A Woman in Transit to Set Me Free, Pool has continually shown a progression from young ingénue to completely able director. This is perhaps her finest work -- the nuances and mood she chooses keep the film running beyond the feminist confines that some will surely label it with. So what if this has strong female characters and only a couple forgettable males -- it's not like the other way around never happens.
And those ladies all show their own. Jessica Paré had yet to do much with her career. She has the looks for a teen TV drama in the vein of Party of Five, Dawson's Creek, or 7th Heaven, and her prior performances made her seem like a sure bet to end up there. But the performance she delivers here -- balancing just the right amount of seductiveness, compassion, and coyness -- creates a sense of why Paulie is so in love with Tory. Though I'm not sure that she'll ever get a chance to show such work again, I am interested to see what Paré will do with her career.
Mischa Barton is probably best known to two different groups for two different films. For those who remain only glued to the most accessible fare, she spooked quite a few people by emerging from under the bed in The Sixth Sense to show her mother's crime. But for those who relish in the harder to find works, the automatic association is with her performance in Lawn Dogs when she was 11 (she's only 15 now). It was there that we got a glimpse at what this young actress can do. This role as the confidante leaves her mainly reacting, but she does it in such a manner that mirrors the audience's reactions. Though the mood is mainly set through Pool's direction, Pierre Gill's cinematography, and Yves Chamberland's score, a great deal of the way the audience feels is conveyed through the face of Ms. Barton. She may not have had much screen time with him in The Sixth Sense, but Mischa Barton could very well prove to be the female equivalent of Haley Joel Osment.
However, the real treat of Lost and Delirious is
the performance of Piper Perabo. That's right, the same Piper Perabo from The
Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Coyote Ugly. I noticed that there was
something to the actress when I saw her in Coyote Ugly, but I brushed it off as
nothing more than a cute face and a winsome acting style. But all those doubts for a
strong performance were thrown through the window with Lost and Delirious. She is
literally remarkable. Though her screen time is nearly equal to her two costars, she
remains with each and every scene, even if she hasn't been on screen for some time. This
is a film that could -- and, truthfully, should -- make a star out of Ms. Perabo. The only
problem is that no one will take the time to see this remarkable performance -- they've
instead got her cleavage to ogle at in Coyote Ugly. But, hey, as dastardly a
reviewing tactic it may be -- I bid everyone who loved her cleavage in Coyote Ugly
to rush and see Lost and Delirious. Not only will you see her nude, but also bask
in a fine performance and a great film to boot.
(Dir: Jim McKay, Starring Kerry Washington, Melissa Martinez, Anna Simpson, Marlene Forte, Raymond Anthony Thomas, Rosalyn Coleman, Carmen López, Tyrone Brown, Lorraine Berry, Natasha Frith, Chuck Cooper, Kim Howard, Juan Romero, Jr., D'Monroe, Reginald Washington, Tommy Axson, and Tyrus Cox)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Every teenager has a moment in his or her life when the future looks like a distant mirage -- a pseudo-important part of growing-up that is both exciting and frightening. Jim McKay's Our Song is about these kids worrying about this route ahead of them. Like his previous film, Girl's Town, things don't necessarily seem bright for his young protagonists, most have broken homes, unloving sexual partners, and nowhere to go in their summer-beaten Crown Heights abodes.
At the beginning of their summer, the three main characters have a new fork in that road: they must choose where they want to go to school for the next year. Their old school has found asbestos and must close down, sending all the current students somewhere else. Many of these students still have a bond in an extracurricular activity: they have joined the Jackie Robinson Steppers marching band. These three girls are all part of the squad.
Joycelyn (Simpson) has recently taken a nice paying job in a small store. This place is one of the ritzier establishments in that area of Brooklyn, and they pay their employees something comparable to their relatively high prices. Joycelyn now has the money that many of her friends do not, and she relishes rubbing it in around them, whether it's a mention of the job's pay or her new found love of designer clothing. At the same time, though, Joycelyn is hit with a question: with a job that delivers this much satisfaction in front of her now, why go back to school?
Maria (Martinez) is even more questionable of her return to school: she is now pregnant. This does not seem to hit her too hard for the moment -- that adolescent foolishness that also plagued a number of teens in Larry Clark's Bully also seems to have touched Maria. She has contemplated abortion, but the father of the child adamantly opposes this -- he may not be willing to support her in raising the child (Maria has a telling line: "you barely act like you like me now"), but he does want to give her a guilt trip to have the child. Maria and her mother do not have the best relationship in the world -- she did not even tell her mom that the school was closing -- so she is hard-pressed to come up with a way to break the news to her mother.
What Maria does not know is that she is not the first in her circle of friends to go through this. Lanisha (Washington) also turned up pregnant and had an abortion -- the only other person that knows about this is her mother. Family life may not be easy, and her friends might not be the best role models in the world. She seems to be the only one truly interested in her future; she is the sole shining light in the clique, willing to ensure a future by pushing on with the present.
There is something beautiful in McKay's film, even if it lacks some of the insight that it seems to yearn for. Our Song does have the needed amount of character-driven plots and exposition, but it does not feel as languid yet engrossing like David Gordan Green's somewhat similar George Washington last year.
The real treat of this film, though, is in its lead
actresses. Each young woman holds her own in the many scenes that create her story. All
three are new to the industry, but it's hard not to hope that we'll see them again --
working together and apart. Kerry Washington seems to be the only one getting much work
right now -- that's fine, in a way, she happened to be the best of the three -- but here's
hoping in light of Our Song, that this will not be the last time I write about
Washington, Simpson, and Martinez.
(Dir: Francis Veber, Starring Daniel Auteuil, Gérard Depardieu, Michèle Laroque, Michel Aumont, Thierry Lhermitte, Jean Rochefort, Alexandra Vandernoot, Stanislas Crevillén, Edgar Givry, Thierry Ashanti, Armelle Deutsch, Irina Ninova, and Marianne Groves)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Francis Veber could easily take the title of most-accessible French screenwriters for American audiences. For that reason, it should be no surprise that his works are constantly being retooled for us across the Atlantic -- his Les Compères became Father's Day, Le Jouet became The Toy, La Chèvre became Pure Luck, Les Fugitifs became Three Fugitives, The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (Le Grand Blond avec Une Chaussure Noire) became The Man with One Red Shoe, La Cage aux Folles became The Birdcage, and The Dinner Game (Le Dînner de Cons) is about to see an English version in Dinner for Schmucks.
Most people probably have no earthly idea who Francis Veber is, even though they have seen many films adapted from his own works. I first gained an interest in the filmmaker after seeing La Cage aux Folles -- immediately I could see that he was perhaps France's Neil Simon. With each creation since (not including some of the adaptation, especially Father's Day), Veber has gone up in my estimation -- even though the films are not necessarily consistently better, it is easy to see that this man still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Like his most well known film, Veber's latest work, The Closet (Le Placard), is about sexuality and the way conception can teeter on a belief. In La Cage aux Folles, the main twist was having a gay man play it straight for his son's best interests; in The Closet, the main twist is that a straight man must act gay to keep his job. It seems, that in this egregiously politically correct world, the only way to secure your position in a workplace is to find a spot in a minority. If you can yell 'prejudice' in the unemployment line, then you are an important asset to the company.
This is even truer for the company that François Pignon (Auteuil; interestingly, the same character name as the protagonist in Les Fugitifs) works at: they make condoms and a boycott from gays would kill their business. Pignon is actually a very devoted worker to the company -- he's been the associate accountant for nearly twenty years. The only reason that he is the chosen one to get the axe is that everyone around the place sees him as incredibly dull. So, not only does this idea of him being gay cause him to retain his job, but it also gives him a more out-going appeal to his coworkers.
The film mainly revolves around certain people and how their efforts to deal with Pignon and his sexuality mark them in some way. His ex-wife Christine (Vandernoot) and son Franck (Crevillén) see him as nothing more than a nerdy little fellow that they haven't time to encourage -- Christine won't return Pignon's calls and Franck skips all of their planned meetings. They, of course, see something in this new Pignon, though. His son sees him as someone more outward than his somewhat confining mother is -- Franck even has the gall to bring some marijuana to one of their meetings. Christine meanwhile cannot completely understand how the man she married has come out of the closet.
At work, there's another problem brewing. The main bigot in the place -- who was ecstatic that Pignon would be fired -- has learned from an associate that the next person to be fired is the one that gives Pignon a hard time. With his ability to turn an entire community against the company, Pignon practically has the ability to cause anyone's dismissal. This gruff chap, Félix Santini (Depardieu), begins to poorly befriend Pignon. But he cannot buy the affection of his coworker and soon starts to have fear that their relationship might not work -- by the time he has bought dinner, a sweater, and chocolates for Pignon, people, including Félix's wife, begin to suspect that someone else is ready to come out of the closet.
The only person that really doubts Pignon's outing is his departmental boss Mademoiselle Bertrand (Laroque). She has worked beside him since the beginning -- though their conversations have been sparse, she does not doubt that she understands who Pignon really is. But he continually pushes the homosexuality to make it more apparent to her -- he even accuses her of sexual harassment -- which only interests her more. After a while, she even finds that this unavailable man is appealing in some way that she had never seen before.
The treat of this film is by far the work of Daniel Auteuil, the French equivalent to Tom Hanks. His perfectly timed comedic side is something that we rarely see from the actor. Through the magic of Jean de Florette (where he previously worked with Gérard Depardieu), Manon of the Spring, Ma Saison Préférée, Queen Margot, La Séparation, Les Voleurs, The Eighth Day, Girl on the Bridge, and The Widow of Saint-Pierre, audiences have come to know him as an invaluable dramatic actor. This is my first time seeing him do straight comedy and I must say that my feelings on the actor have gone up three-fold. I always knew that he was a reason to see whatever new drama he has lined up -- now I know to keep an eye out on the comedies that he'd touching too.
The Closet lives on its main joke and uses it for
its utmost. Not only does it proceed to ridicule everything in its path, but it also takes
a couple social and political jabs in the process. Anyone that feels the constant threat
of political correctness is sure to find something in this film. Thankfully, it never
preaches the agenda, but it is still hard to miss. Veber has created a film that perfectly
takes on the issues of an overtly p.c. world and is nice enough to make us laugh in the