My Best Friend (Mon Meilleur Ami)
The French director Patrice Leconte seems drawn to unusual pairings: think of Juliette Binoche’s governor’s wife and Emir Kusturica’s condemned prisoner in The Widow of Saint Pierre; Jean Rochefort’s retired teacher and Johnny Hallyday’s bank-robber in The Man on the Train; or Michel Blanc’s secretive tailor and Sandrine Bonnaire’s spied-upon neighbour in Monsieur Hire. Here in this contemporary Parisian buddy movie, he teams an arrogant, successful antiques dealer François (Daniel Auteuil) with a good-natured, trivia-spouting taxi driver Bruno (Dany Boon), who dreams of appearing on the French equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
The premise is that François is challenged by his business associate Catherine (Julie Gayet) to provide a ‘meilleur ami’ by the end of the month. If he fails in this task, François will have to hand over to her an exceptionally valuable Greek vase he has recently bought at an auction.
Leconte has said in a recent interview that he no longer wants to make ‘serious movies’, and the naturalistically shot My Best Friend turns out to be an amiable if formulaic divertissement. It’s at its most amusing in charting the materialistic François’ hapless initial efforts to acquire a genuine pal, notably a disastrous attempt to look up a former childhood classmate. Yet, predictably, the odd couple pairing of François and Bruno allows both the protagonists to develop emotionally, although the credible performances of Auteuil and Boon do lend some substance to the characterisations.