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THE CLOSET (NR)
Miramax Zoe
Official Site
Director: Francis Veber
Producer: Patrice Ledoux, Alain Poire
Written by: Francois Veber
Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte, Michele Laroque, Jean Rochefort, Michel Aumont, Stanislas Crevillen, Edgar Givry, Alexandra Vandernoot

Rating: out of 5


THE CLOSET is a delightful French farce from Francis Veber, who also wrote and directed other wildly popular French comedies such as THE DINNER GAME, LA CHEVRE and LES COMPERES. Pignon (Auteuil) is an accountant for a rubber company. He’s an innocuous person, the type who gets left out of the company’s group photo. His ex-wife, whom he still loves, won’t return his calls, and his teenage son refuses to spend time with a father whom he finds dull, but Pignon resolutely plods on. However, when he discovers he is going to be fired after 20 years of service, he falls into despair at losing the only thing that gives his life value. Fortunately a kindly neighbor comes up with a plan to help Pignon keep his job. They anonymously mail the company some doctored photos that show Pignon in an embrace with another man. The plan works; fearful of being accused of sexual discrimination (especially since their number one product is condoms) the company keeps him on.

However, no one anticipates what would happen now that everyone’s perception of Pignon has changed. Suddenly co-workers who previously never noticed Pignon existed are gossiping about him. The company publicist wants to make Pignon the poster boy for their product in the gay community. The ex-wife starts returning his calls, and the son thinks his father is cool. Of course the most important change is in how Pignon perceives himself, now that he commands people’s attention. It is a treat to watch how “coming out” helps him come into his own.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments in THE CLOSET, as when we see Pignon haplessly waving from on top of the company float in a Gay Pride Parade—wearing a condom hat. There are also some sublimely funny moments, mostly due to French film icon Gerard Depardieu as the resident company bigot Felix, who has been told he may lose his job unless he proves he is not anti-gay. As we watch this big, hulking man buy gifts of cashmere sweaters and chocolates in fumbling attempts to be nice to Pignon, we see why Europe has long regarded Depardieu as a great talent in comedy as well as drama.

THE CLOSET actually takes pointed jabs at some pretty serious subjects, from political correctness to gay-bashing, but it does so with a light and forthright touch. Overall, this is a very funny and observant movie that shows just how perceptions can affect reality.

—Sandhya Shardanand

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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