10 November 2005 | gradyharp
Romantic Comedy in the True French Manner
It seems when it comes to romantic comedies the French have the corner on the market and technique. APRES VOUS is a bit of pastiche with a storyline that borders on absurd, but in the hands of director Pierre Salvadori it becomes not only an enjoyable farce, but also a tender little statement about compassion.
Antoine (Daniel Anteuil) is the fastidious and ultra compassionate manager of a high-class restaurant who bends over backwards for his staff, his patrons, and anybody who crosses his path who appears needy. He ends up making his girlfriend Christine (Marilyne Canto) take second place to his humanitarian concerns and this puts a strain on his relationship. One evening in a rush to meet Christine he encounters Louis (José Garcia) who is in the process of hanging himself in the park, his desired finale to a life of frustration and loss of his girlfriend Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain). Naturally Antoine rescues him, feeds him, even brings him home, all the while putting his life on hold to help Louis heal his wounds. Louis is most concerned about the loss of Blanche and Antoine immediately commits his efforts to find her, woo her back for Louis (including revealing Blanche's current boyfriend's infidelity) - but in the process there develops a mutual attraction between Antoine and Blanche! Antoine arranges for Louis to get a job at his restaurant despite Louis' depression and lack of training. Just when everything seems to be turning out for the best, Christine leaves Antoine, and the circumstances surrounding Antoine's salvage of Louis' life change and the ending is somewhat of a French twist! The acting is fine, the pacing is fine, the only problem is with the characters themselves: we soon tire of Antoine's absurd selflessness and Louis' nerdy helplessness and that hampers the identification with these characters. Other than that the film is a brisk, sweet little French farce that leaves you humming. Grady Harp