An interesting companion piece to Daniel Auteuil’s last fluffy comedy The Closet, Patrice Leconte’s charming and agreeably silly film gives this great, crumple-faced actor the chance to show his comedic abilities. The scenario is simple. Francois Coste (Auteuil) is an antiques dealer and, when we first meet him, he’s at a client’s funeral, partly to pay his respects but mostly to make sure that the widow doesn’t sell the furniture to anyone else. Francois can’t help but notice though just how few people have attended the funeral, a point he raises that night at his birthday dinner. The responses he gets from his ‘friends’ is shocking: none of them are planning to attend Francois’ funeral because, basically, they don’t really like him. His assistant, Catherine (Julie Gayet) agrees: Francois is essentially unlikable, which is why he doesn’t have a best friend. Of course I do, claims Francois… so Catherine challenges him: present your best friend by the end of the month, otherwise the vase they just bought for the shop is hers.
Easy, thinks Francois… before discovering that, actually, he isn’t liked. He’s never really shown an interest in people and they’ve lost interest in him. Even his regular dining companions don’t see themselves as friends. When the same chatty taxi driver — Bruno (Dany Boon) — appears several times in a few days, Francois has an idea: befriend Bruno, pass him off as his bon ami, and win the bet. Life though isn’t so simple and the path of good friendship here does not run smooth. In the course of their relationship, both end up learning something. Which is inevitable, given the nature of the film. But the journey, while sounding trite, is delightful and, while My Best Friend is slight, at 94 minutes, it never threatens to outstay its welcome. The performances are charming, the end is silly but hilarious, and there’s a little wisdom lurking within too. And see it now before the already-planned US remake appears around 2009.