Mon meilleur ami

Synopsis: Unlikeable antiques dealer Francois (Auteuil) always gets what he wants, but there’s one thing he’s never had: a friend. Challenged to a bet by his business partner, Francois must find someone who will pose as his best palin just 10 days. Enlisting the assistnace of charming taxi driver Bruno (Boon), Francois goes to outrageous lenghts to be “sociable, smiling and sincere.” Daniel Auteuil (Cache) and Dany Boon (The Valet) star in this heartwarming comedy from acclaimed director Patrice Leconte(The Man on the Train).

Mon meilleur ami 7.5

It’s a real shame: until the last half hour, ‘Mon meilleur ami’ was rocketing to the top of my favourite films of the year – it was grounded, heartfelt and humourous and I was enjoying every moment of it. Then came a cruel turn of events, and the film suddenly felt like a standard American dramedy. Too bad.

I say “too bad” because, prior to this, I kept wondering how the film would be if was a Hollywood production, and I kept unequivocally thinking that it could only work as a European production – that the same film would falter under North American hands, in a North American setting, with North American sensibilities.

It’s not just a prejudice: hit films and television series rarely survive across the Atlantic, one way or the other, and there are countless examples of Americanized entertainment that has failed miserably where the French or British originals succeeded (La Femme Nikita, Taxi, La Chèvre, Coupling, Les Compères, Get Carter, Oscar, The Day of the Jackal, The Wicker Man, Fawlty Towers).

Ironically, I thought that maybe this film was a French version of ‘I Love You, Man’, seeing as its theme of a man who realizes that he doesn’t have a best friend and goes on quest to find one, echoes the American hit. But they are not the same; even the protagonist’s motivations are different, along with much of the rest of the film, for that matter.

What they do have in common however, are charm, solid (but not necessarily noteworthy) performances, and a pretty good amount of laughs peppered throughout. Again, the notable difference is that ‘I Love You, man is more even-keeled, whereas ‘Mon meilleur ami’ starts off very strong and ends with a bit of a clichéd, Hollywood ending.

It’s a real shame.

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