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Cantankerous antique dealer François (Auteuil) is attending a friend’s birthday party, when…actually, more a colleague than a friend. Anyway, during the conversation, his business partner Catherine (Gayet) concludes that he probably doesn’t actually have any friends.
Of course, he protests against this notion, to which she sets him a challenge, giving him a deadline by which she has to meet his best friend – or else she gets to keep the tremendously expensive ancient Chinese vase he’s just paid way over the odds for.
Should be easy, right? As long as he has one.
After chasing up a few old acquaintances, who knock him back like a skittle, he realises it isn’t going to be as easy to keep the vase as he’d hoped…until, he jumps into a taxi, with an unusually garrulous driver…


This is an undoubtedly sweet-natured comedy of manners and errors, of the kind only the French would make. An atypically warm odd-couple movie – or a buddy movie with a darker streak.
It achieves humour by mixing high culture with mainstream TV entertainment – wealthy snobs with struggling working people – people with dreams with people who are way past dreams.
It’s another fine turn for Auteuil, whose typical deadpan delivery – despairing at every turn – fits his character like a glove.
Boon will be a newcomer to most British viewers and he’s a welcome addition to the French variety chocolate box of performers – equally comfortable in his moments of bristling, if misplaced confidence as he is during his hapless, emotionally challenging scenes.
The actors get to exchange some sharp and witty banter, but the story itself is rather simplistic and moralistic – it won’t teach you anything about humanity you don’t already know and it won’t really tell you anything about the characters you couldn’t work out from the start.
It’s mostly fun but decidedly unchallenging.
And while the big finale (which I won’t spoil for you) will take you on a roller-coaster ride of your own emotions, one particular conceit left me with a rather bitter taste in my mouth. Maybe I’m being unfairly pedantic, but it just wouldn’t be live – you’ll know exactly what I mean when you see it.

opens nationwide 11th May 2007

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