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The Valet

(La Doublure)

Making people laugh is the specialty of the house where French writer-director Francis Veber is concerned, and he is awfully good at it. A master of cinematic farce, Veber’s latest venture, The Valet, makes creating deliciously funny comedy look a lot easier than it has any right to. The Valet marks the inevitable return of one of Veber’s most popular characters, the always-in-earnest if somewhat clueless François Pignon (Gad Elmaleh). Pignon’s job this time around is parking cars at a fancy Parisian restaurant. Soulless billionaire Pierre Lavasseur (the versatile Daniel Auteuil, who played Pignon in Veber’s The Closet) lives in fear that his icy wife Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), a major stockholder in his company, will discover his relationship with the leonine Elena (Alice Taglioni), a supermodel. As always happens in Veber films, Pierre’s worst nightmare comes to pass. A paparazzo grabs a shot of the mogul and his mistress together and, confronted by his wife, Pierre tries a desperate ploy. Elena isn’t with him, he tells a frankly dubious Christine, she is with the nerdy-looking guy (who, in reality, was simply walking by and is in the picture totally by accident). A nerdy guy named Pignon. Because he is a billionaire, after all, Pierre has the financial means to persuade both Elena and Pignon to pretend, against all reason, to be a romantic couple. The bulk of The Valet’s very funny 85 minutes shows how this is done and what the effect is on the flabbergasted people who know either of the parties involved. While some of the sight gags have roots that go back to the great silent clowns, Veber’s innate understanding of what makes people laugh, his gift for impeccable timing and for getting his cast to work together like interlocking parts of a fine machine, are difficult to resist. While it’s of course funny when Pierre tells his lawyer, ‘spare me your quips’, we can all be grateful that Veber has not spared us his. Kenneth Turan, LA Times

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Directed by: 
Francis Veber
Running Time: 
French with English subtitles.
Gad Elmaleh, Alice Taglioni, Daniel Auteuil, Kristin Scott Thomas
Screenplay by: 
Francis Veber

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