The Valet

Director: Francis Veber

Yet another hilarious French comedy from Francis Veber—the man behind such hits as The Dinner Game, The Closet, and many others.

Filled with in-jokes that will delight those who have seen his other films including naming his forever bumbling main character Francois Pignon, who in each of his works finds himself (while played by different actors) in situations of misunderstandings and mistaken identity, wherein he must play a vital role.

In the case of The Valet, Gad Elmaleh stars as Francois, an unassuming young valet without much in the way of career goals or prospects. In the beginning of the piece, he proposes marriage to Emlie (the beautiful Virgine Ledoyen), only to be shot down by his gal-pal with her confession that she merely thinks of him as a “brother-type.” Chance intervenes when he’s photographed walking by supermodel Elena Simonsen (Alice Taglioni) and her married lover, CEO Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil).

Sensing disaster and fearing a scandalous divorce that could make him lose control of his stocks and company, Pierre and his lawyer quickly enlist a complicated scheme for Elena to move in with Francois in order to fool his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas with a perfect French accent), convincing the world that the Chanel knockout is really the girlfriend of an ordinary young man.

Of course, Pierre underestimates his wife’s intelligence when she learns of the game and manages to intervene with all parties playing with the minds of everyone else in hilarious, slightly predictable yet absolutely enjoyable ways. One of the more refreshing films to hit theatres so far in the summer of 2007 in the wake of so many bloated Hollywood sequels, The Valet is intelligent, silly fun for audiences whose brain-power is respected by the director and never once does the film hit a false note, despite a slightly hurried and grammatically incorrect subtitle track that plays throughout and will hopefully be fixed for the DVD.

In addition, fashion enthusiasts and Chanel devotees will relish in the showcase of Chanel runway apparel. Overall, it’s one of my very favorite Veber films—up there with the aforementioned Dinner Game (which gets a mention in the film as one character is unknowingly invited to a dinner for fools) and The Closet (also starring Auteuil).

Note: the word Pignon in French is defined in Larousse’s English/French dictionary with the following, “to be a person of substance,” making the recurring name all the more humorous for those familiar with the language.

From The Valet
“No Particular Place to Go”
by Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Chuck Berry - No Particular Place to Go