If you told me I could only watch movies from one country for the rest of my life I would without hesitation pick France. French films so rarely disappoint. (And not just because of my crush on Vanessa Paradis. There's also Melanie Laurent.) Even in genres that don't usually do much for me -- like suspense -- I love the way the French do it. And when it comes to my favorite genre -- Romantic Comedy -- well, the French are the masters in my book.
Today I watched "Apres Vous" and loved it. Every time I watch one of these French romcoms I hope nobody in Hollywood is doing the same, because I know they'll dumb it down, wring all the charm out of it, and remake it with Adam Sandler and Kate Hudson or someone equally lacking in talent.
Here Daniel Auteuil plays Antoine the head-waiter Chez Jean in Paris. One night he sees a guy trying to hang himself in the park and he intervenes, saving the guy's life. But you can tell that Louis (Jose Garcia) is not grateful, and you can tell that as soon as he can summon up the energy he's just going to try again; he's almost catatonic with grief.
So Antoine takes the guy home, helps him land a job at Chez Jean, even tracks down the girl who broke Louis's heart. And all that might happen in an American comedy, but they'd have to establish that there was something wrong with Antoine for going out on a limb like that -- something lacking in his life or in his brain -- whereas here we get to see a fundamentally decent guy tries to help someone and ends up screwing his own life up pretty royally. It's interesting to try and figure out exactly where he went too far. It's also fun to try and see how all this is going to end up with anything like a happy ending
Another thing the French do that I so appreciate it their actors don't look like movie stars. I mean they're not all drop-dead gorgeous as they are in American cinema. In America everybody -- doctors, lawyers, serial killers, are all beautiful. In France the movie stars look like real people. Sandrine Kiberlain is not a classical beauty but by the end of the movie you've fallen in love with her because of who her character is and how she lives. And somewhere along the way she becomes beautiful.
Watch how underplayed and erotic this realizing you're falling in love scene is: