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:: Après Vous (After You)

Après Vous is a delightful French farce about an unlikely friendship and life’s little surprises. It stars acclaimed dramatic actor Daniel Auteuil, who returns to his comedic roots in this double act with Jose Garcia.

Hard-working Antoine (Auteuil) is Maitre de at an upmarket Paris restaurant. After working late one night he takes a short-cut home through a city park, where he is shocked to find a man trying to hang himself. Antoine rushes to save him but the stranger, Louis (Garcia) is less than grateful. Distraught after a break-up with his girlfriend, he is still determined to end it all. Now feeling guilty for his good deed, Antoine accepts responsibility for Louis until his life is back on track.

This sets the scene for a comedy of errors. Louis is plagued by bad luck. He is depressed, unemployed, drowning his sorrows with wine and worst of all, he already mailed a suicide note to his mother. He has no skills and Antoine pulls more strings than a puppeteer trying to get him job at the restaurant. Cleaned up and finally sobered up, Louis gets a trial at last…as a wine waiter.

Auteuil keeps up the straight-guy routine through all their slapstick clowning, his self-depreciating helpfulness one of the funniest things in the film. Then, when Antoine decides to reconcile Louis with his ex-girlfriend, Blanche, you just know it’s going to get even sillier.

Sandrine Kiberlain plays the enigmatic Blanche, a renowned beauty with a “Something About Mary” effect on almost every man she meets. Blanche has some great lines but doesn’t have the charisma to really make the most of them. Kiberlain meets the demands of the role but does not exceed them.

The development of a wonderful friendship between the two men underlies the mayhem, and gives the film a greater emotional depth than we might expect. The laughs do slow down towards the end but overall Après Vous strikes a good balance between serious romance and old-fashioned fun.