One of the few films that I managed to see at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival was Patrice Leconte's comedy MY BEST FRIEND. This seemingly lightweight film stars one of contemporary cinema's best actors -- Daniel Auteuil -- as François Coste, a well-to-do art dealer in Paris who confuses business contacts with friends.
with the intent of completing a transaction he had begun with the deceased. He then heads off to an auction where he uncharacteristically bids on a Greek vase depicting the friendship of Achilles and Patroclus (although a closer reading of the Illiad might lead people to realize they were more than just friends, but I digress). Appalled that he would spend so much, his business partner Catherine (Julie Gayet) suggests a wager: Coste must bring his best friend to dinner or she gets to keep the vase. Reluctantly, he agrees.
Although François is certain he has a best friend, he quickly learns that he has been mistaking casual business associates for something more. Indeed, it seems most people don't really even like him, but merely tolerate him because of his status in the industry.
Eventually Coste meets a loquacious taxi cab driver named Bruno (Dany Boon). Even though he finds the driver's knowledge of trivia a bit tedious, Coste recognizes that the man has a distinctly successful manner with people. On another whim, he hires Bruno to train him in the art of forging connections with other people.
For Bruno it boils down to three things, smiling, sincerity and sociability, none of which François possesses and Bruno has his work cut out. But, then a strange thing begins to happen. The pair begin to discover some commonalities and a bond grows between them.
But there are complications and several twists and turns. The film climaxes with Bruno as a contestant on the French equivalent of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Auteuil is peerless as Coste and he and Boon share a terrific chemistry (the pair are off screen friends and also appear in THE VALET). Gayet does yeoman work as Coste's business partner and there are nice supporting turns from Julie Durand as François' daughter and Jacques Mathou and Marie Pillet as Bruno's parents. MY BEST FRIEND is an enjoyable soufflé that may get you to stop and ask yourself the question: do you have a best friend?
Rating: B MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some strong language Running time: 90 mins.
MY BEST FRIEND (Mon meilleur ami) An IFC Films Release