November 6, 2007 -- The charming French film “My Best Friend” (Mon meilleur ami) is a funny, insightful movie about a man who tries to take a shortcut to friendship with very unpredictable results.
Daniel Auteuil of “Caché” stars as the unlikable François Coste, an antique dealer who is so arrogant, brusque and self-centered that he doesn't even realize he has no friends at all. Even his own family doesn't like him. After buying an expensive vase using the company's money, he makes a bet with his business partner, Catherine (Julie Gayet). He bets her he can produce a friend in two weeks or lose ownership of the expensive vase. The vase was supposedly made by an artist for a friend. After the friend dies, the artist filled the vase with his tears. Buying the vase was obviously an impulse generated by Coste's subconscious mind in an attempt to fill the vast emptiness in his life. The purchase was part of a pattern in which Coste tries to purchase friendship.
Coste begins studying his address book, looking for friends, but he finds the people he thought were his friends really are not friends at all. In desperation, he finds a friendly cab driver, Bruno Bouley (Dany Boon), who seems to have a knack for making friends, as well as a head full of trivial facts that keep spilling out at awkward times. He hires the cab driver to teach him how to be more sociable. Coste tries hard, but his attempts to be sociable turn out disastrously. The deadline for the bet approaches and Coste becomes increasingly desperate to find a friend, any friend. The deadline, however, is just the beginning of his journey toward learning the most important lesson about friendship.
The story has some interesting twists and turns. It isn't always believable, but it is entertaining and funny, with an edge to it. Ably directed by Patrice Leconte (“Intimate Strangers”), the film is not all warm and fuzzy. It exposes human follies that are sometimes hilarious and other times, not funny at all. The characters experience betrayal and disappointment in addition to some triumphs. This story about friendship is a lot like other stories about love. Coste finds out that friendship is not without its perils, its pain and its costs, which have nothing to do with money. Daniel Auteuil gives a great performance as Coste and Bruno Bouley is equally as strong as the likeable Boon. Also good is Julie Durand as Coste's daughter, Louise. Boon's frustrated parents are played by Jacques Mathou and Marie Pillet. This film rates a B.
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