My Best Friend Movie Review

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French writer/director Patrice Leconte specializes in odd couples, and My Best Friend is another enjoyable variation on the theme. Paris is a cold and miserable place for art and antiques dealer Francois (Daniel Auteuil), and it will take a new person in his life to deliver him from the emotional pain he doesn't even seem to realize he's suffering.

Francois is stunned to discover that he has no friends, not one. At a bustling restaurant dinner with many of his colleagues, the topic comes up, and each one of them makes it clear in no uncertain terms that while they may work with him, they don't like him and never have. Even his business partner Catherine (Julie Gayet) feels that the only thing he really loves is a good deal on an antique. Nonsense, says Francois, I have lots of friends, don't I?

Shaken, Francois is inspired to wildly overbid at an auction for an ancient Greek vase said to have been inspired by friendship. Catherine makes him a bet: Produce your best friend within 10 days -- no ringers allowed -- or give me the vase. And the race is on.

Francois's attempts to track down old friends are disastrous. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, he even corners a grade-school chum in a supermarket, only to find out that this long-lost "friend" hated him then and hates him now. Chatting about all this with Bruno (Dany Boon), the taxi driver who is taking him around, Francois soon realizes that he could learn a thing or two from this affable guy, who has a gift for gab and a complete sense of ease around strangers. He soon hires Bruno to be his friendship coach, even though Bruno's attitude is that either you have it or you don't. Social skills can't really be taught, as Francois learns after repeatedly embarrassing himself in public parks and bars. You'll laugh, but you'll squirm, too.

When Francine opines that a true friend is someone who would risk everything for you, Francois decides to test his burgeoning friendship with Bruno, and there's lots of drama -- and a few laughs -- as that test becomes quite an adventure for both Francois and Bruno. The obvious but well-crafted lessons of the film are that it's extremely easy to feel totally isolated even in a city crowded with people, and, as the old saying goes, you can't expect anyone to love you until you learn to love yourself.

Daniel Auteuil is one of France's most dependable actors, and here he pulls off that impressive cinematic trick of earning sympathy for a character who is basically unsympathetic. He's in almost every scene and has no trouble carrying the film. French though it may be, My Best Friend effectively addresses what is a universal human condition.

Aka Mon meilleur ami.

I'm with stupid.

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My Best Friend Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 2007

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