Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
François Veber, writer-director of The Dinner Game, is on top form again with this rapid-fire farce about political correctness in the workplace.
Daniel Auteuil, as shrewd a comic as he is a dramatic actor, plays François Pignon, the name always carried by Veber’s fall guys. This Pignon is a dull, rather sad accountant who takes the improbable step of pretending to be gay in order to avoid the downsizer’s chop. After all, his elderly gay neighbour reasons, who these days would dare fire a persecuted minority? Especially when the workplace is a condom factory.
As with The Dinner Game, the premise sounds dodgily reactionary. The execution, however, is amusingly, even deviously, gay-friendly. For the first time in his life everybody notices Pignon. Maybe he’s not such a dull stick after all. Even his ex-wife and son take an interest in him. And, in the film’s funniest development, the company’s most dunder-headed homophobe is forced to be nice to him. As this rugby-obssessed dolt, Gérard Depardieu is sweetly, deftly hilarious. — BG
In The Closet the story construction, the rhythm and the characterisations all blend seamlessly and cinematically (the only quibble: co-stars Jean Rochefort and Thierry Lhermitte are somewhat underemployed). As Veber’s signature fool Auteuil creates a credible comic hero who actually grows from a non-entity into a self-aware human being in the course of the film – something rare amongst Veber’s gallery of nerds. No less unusual is the presence of a viable female character in the person of sassy Michèle Laroque, as a secretary who sees through the hero’s masquerade and sets out to prove he’s straight. — Benny Crick, Screen International, 9/3/01