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La Doublure


The Valet is another entry in a saga based on a recurrent character Franois Pignon, an average Joe that French screenwriter/director Francis Veber likes to throw into the most awkward situations, as in The Dinner Game and The Closet.

Here Pignon is hired by the lawyer of a powerful CEO (Daniel Auteuil, himself an ex-Pignon in The Closet) to act as the boyfriend of the latter's mistress/top model (the gorgeous Alice Taglioni), in order to save his marriage. But Pignon, who only thinks about the girl he loves, a bookstore clerk played by Virginie Ledoyen, ends up in the middle of a media storm.

As a screenwriter and director, Veber has built his career on well-oiled comedies, from The Birdcage to The Dinner Game, and while his approach, which embraces popular cinema, is never very subtle, he usually crafts enticing characters who manage to take the audience through the ups and downs of his humor.

Following the strong films The Dinner Game and The Closet, The Valet, while quite entertaining and cute, is definitely a letdown, mostly suffering from easy jokes and poorly drawn characters. As usual, Veber's film clocks in at slightly under 90mn but the short running time that usually keeps the comedic rhythm sharp doesn't allow for enough time to expose some of the characters and situations or to tie up some loose ends. As a result some actresses are wasted in almost cameo-like appearancesmost particularly Kristin Scott Thomas & Virginie Ledoyenwhile the absence of some scenes key to plot development turns the film unintentionally cynical and creates implausible moments.

Think about it, once the credits have started rolling, you realize that some of the story's conclusions are 1) a poor and ugly guy can't get a top-model anyway and that 2) money can buy you lovesee the girlfriend's sudden turn when she gets the money she needs. Of course that's not what Veber meant, but this laziness in screenwriting and/or editing doesn't let The Valet go anywhere once it gets past a few amusing moments.
Date Added: 05/03/2013 by Juliette
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