When you think of a loner, what kind of person comes to mind? Geeky? Talking about things that make them snort but which don’t amuse anyone else? A bit smelly? Well, Francois Coste (played by a very talented Daniel Auteuil) isn’t geeky or boring or particularly smelly. He is a loner though.
Francois has plenty of money, a sort-of girlfriend and his diary is full to the brim with appointments, but there’s one thing missing — he has no friends, as his business partner kindly points out to him over dinner. So in a bid to prove her wrong, they make a bet. For him to win he must present his best friend to her in 10 days. If he fails, she will get the symbolic antique Greek vase that he recently risked the business to acquire. The amusing search for his best friend then begins and he enlists the help of sociable, smiley cab driver Bruno (played by the equally talented Dany Boon). Francois then realises that his best friend is sitting right under his nose, but in an attempt to win the bet, he goes and buggers it all up.
The film certainly has charm and the two leads play the two opposing types of loners exceptionally well. However, the other characters aren’t as great. Julie Gayet’s Catherine is supposed to be likeable; however, she just comes across as a bit of a bitch, and the character of Francois’s girlfriend is a strange one — in some ways endearing that she doesn’t play the typical sensitive woman, but in some ways just unrealistic. On a similar note, the Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? scene is also rather far-fetched — ie, live and with a several minute phone-a-friend (Britain's Chris Tarrant wouldn’t allow for that kind of thing, but hey, this is the French version).
The comedy is subtle so it’s more chuckle funny than guffaw funny, but the tragedy of the film is more poignant, especially as displayed by Bruno who plays a character it is very difficult not to love. There are so many films that explore the idea of trying to find love in a romantic sense but few that tackle the search for friendship that Patrice Leconte’s film does and, although it’s not flawless, at its heart this is a touching tale of friendship and love that analyses what true friendship is and how it comes about.
EXTRAS ** Not much, but there is a very pleasant and amusing ‘making of…’ with cast interviews and clips showing how some of the key scenes were filmed, including actors bursting into fits of laughter which meant they had to do several takes — always a bit of a giggle.