April 20, 2007

Interview. Francis Veber.

The Valet "As flamboyant and bubbly as vintage Krug, The Valet is typical [Francis] Veber: often populated with despicable characters and washed in world-weary cynicism, but ultimately exuding the optimistic, innocent energy of first love," writes Michelle Devereaux, introducing her interview with the director. "In Veber's world, the 'little' guy is never nearly as little as everyone thinks."

Updated through 4/25.

"Francis Veber has been an industrious source of chipper, very lucrative French screen farces for well over 30 years, working first as a screenwriter, then as a director, amassing credits on such popular titles as La Cage aux Folles and The Dinner Game, as well as a smattering of American remakes," notes Nick Pinkerton at indieWIRE. "The Valet, his latest product, is yet another inconsequential roundelay of playacting and ostensibly comic misunderstandings - there's no cross-dressing or hiding in wardrobes, but it's essentially that kind of movie. Odds that some critic will call it 'as light and flaky as a fresh croissant' are about 2:1."

"If you love to hate the superrich, The Valet, a delectable comedy in which the great French actor Daniel Auteuil portrays a piggy billionaire industrialist facing his comeuppance, is a sinfully delicious bonbon," writes Stephen Holden in the New York Times. "Because its structure and the targets of its satire - vanity, greed and lust - hark back to Molière, The Valet offers a reassuring vision of a fixed social order, bourgeois to the core, in which virtue is rewarded and hubris exposed. For all its cynicism about sex, money and power, it doesn't rock any boats."

"While some of the sight gags on view in The Valet 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," writes Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times.

"After the vaporous whimsy of Avenue Montaigne and now the drippy antics of The Valet, Paris really could use more Gaspar Noé leather infernos," suggests Fernando F Croce at Slant.

Jennifer Merin talks with Veber for the New York Press.

Earlier: "Rendez-Vous. 12."

Updates, 4/21: "Considering that the plot is the thing," writes Nick Schager at Cinematical, "it's somewhat disheartening to find that the film doesn't contain a single moment that would qualify as a bona fide surprise."

"I put down Robert Zemeckis's Used Cars as the funniest movie I had ever seen in my responses to the personal movie quiz I posted earlier this week, but if I had thought about I might have picked Veber's The Dinner Game (1998), which come to think of it may be the funniest movie I have ever seen in a theater, to judge by the constant laughter that greeted the film when I saw it," recalls Robert Cashill. "The Valet is a milder film, still funny, but rarely explosively so. It's comforting to know that somewhere in a world that seems colder and crueler by the week someone is still writing doctor jokes, and still wringing chuckles from them."

Update, 4/23: "Veber films in general give a strong, time-puncturing hint of what it was like to sit in a Paris theatre in 1907 and watch a Feydeau farce," writes Anthony Lane in the New Yorker. "To be honest, The Valet does not show Veber at his best. His palate for misunderstandings of every vintage is as refined as ever; what he has lost is his taste for human failing."

Update, 4/25: Peter Sobczynski talks with Veber for Hollywood Bitchslap.

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Posted by dwhudson at April 20, 2007 3:09 PM