Valet, The (2006) Francis Veber’s Farce, Starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Daniel Auteuil

The Valet, an amusing, delectable farce from Francis Veber again shows the writer-director’s skillful facility with a uniquely Gallic form.

The French title, La Doublure, literally translates into The Stand-In.

 

The Valet
TheValet.jpg

Theatrical release poster

Toplined by two superb actors, Oscar nominee Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient) and Daniel Auteuil (most recently in Michael Haneke’s terrific political thriller “Cache”), one of the most accomplished thespians in Gallic cinema today, The Valet is a light, delightful comedy about mistaken identities and star-crossed lovers.

The Valet continues his box-office-proof tradition of putting ordinary characters into extraordinary circumstances, a setting that forces them to take stock of their lives, to some hilarious, totally unanticipated results.

The story is deceptively simple. Franois (Gad Elmaleh), a parking valet at a posh Paris restaurant, is photographed by a paparazzo leaving the restaurant along with Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil), a rich tycoon, and his beautiful supermodel mistress Elena (Alice Taglioni).

In a desperate attempt to avoid an ugly divorce from his loyal wife Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), Pierres scheming lawyer (Richard Berry) concocts an outrageous plan. He pays the valet a lot of money to live with Pierres mistress, hoping to mislead the tabloids and conceal the affair from Christine.

Meanwhile, Pierre must convince the stunning Elena to live with Franois in his crummy apartment–until the issues resolves–while continuing to reassure his wife that Franois is really Elenas boyfriend.

Thematically, the yarn is old hat, but it’s executed with charm and “savoir faire,” that special, indescribable touch that French boulevard directors have specialized in for decade (centuries, if you include theater and opera).

Vet writer-director Francis Veber was nominated in 1980 for Best Adapted Screenplay for the smash hit “La Cage aux Folles,” later remade into a successful American film,
“The Bird Cage” by Mike Nichols, and long-running Broadway musical.

In a career spanning 30 years, Veber is one of the most prolific French writer/directors of all time. His hit French films have been remade in America by some of the best filmmakers, including LEmmerdeur, which, as “Buddy, Buddy,” was directed by Billy Wilder; “Le Jouet,” directed by Richard Donner as “The Toy.”

Cast
Daniel Auteuil as Pierre Levasseur
Richard Berry as Lawyer Foix
Gad Elmaleh as François Pignon
Alice Taglioni as Elena Simonsen
Kristin Scott Thomas as Christine Levasseur
Virginie Ledoyen as Émilie
Dany Boon as Richard
Michèle Garcia as Louise
Michel Aumont as The Doctor
Michel Jonasz as André Pignon
Noémie Lenoir as Karine
Laurent Gamelon as Paul
Karl Lagerfeld as himself
Ellie Harvie as The restaurant manager

Credits:

Directed, written by Francis Veber
Produced by Patrice Ledoux
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Robert Fraisse
Edited by Georges Klotz
Distributed by Gaumont
Sony Pictures Classics (US)

Release date: March 20, 2006 (France)

Running time: 86 minutes

 

DVD Special Features

Making of The Valet

Commentary with writer/director Francis Veber

Credits

Running Time: 85 Minutes
MPAA Rating: PG