Projections - Movie Reviews

The Closet

The Closet

Francis Veber continues the story of Francois Pignon in the funny and touching French film The Closet (Le Placard).  The self-effacing character was last seen in Veber's often hilarious The Dinner Game and the director continues his success with an inviting inversion of the seminal La Cage Aux Follies which he wrote back in 1978.

Reversing a corporate trend, the accountant, Pignon, played by the versatile French actor Daniel Auteil (The Widow of St. Pierre, Girl on the Bridge), has the appeal to turn from dark suits and a banal nature in the guise of a racy homosexual to keep his job.

Part of the early scenes of The Closet are not adrift from The Girl on the Bridge as Pignon, divorced from his wife and estranged from his son, learns he's about to be terminated from his position.  Arriving at home with no one there, the desperate Francois edges out to the terrace wanting to end it all.  Out there, he sees his new next-door neighbor, Belone (Michel Aumont) and a hungry kitty.  Belone tells him to reconsider his intentions because if Pignon fell, he would land on his car.  After a chat, Belone's idea of Francois presenting himself as gay could prevent the company from firing him for fear of a discrimination law suit.  The plan does work, but it has many repercussions for our bold every-man in Pignon.

We get the main story from Pignon and Auteil again admirably fits the bill with his cool, deceptive circumspect allure and The Closet gets better with the reactions of others to the "new" Francois.  Gerald Depardieu's Santini is a rugby coach and the virile director of the business where Pignon works.

The Closet energizes comedically its offering of politically incorrect attitudes which may not accurately reflect contemporary France and Santini is coerced by co-workers to act with more kindness to Pignon.  What ensues fires up an unseen tenderness that makes The Closet more engaging as Francois has an unexpected, intimate companion.  Depardieu is as good as he's been in a long time, known favorably to American audiences in the romantic comedy Green Card.  His comedic talents shine through a whelped tale and Veber's fine direction.

Yet, Veber doesn't let his comedy wane in the midst of the twists affecting Pignon from family and the workplace and there's irony like The Taste of Others that now being different can have an effect which plays well off of the father/son relationship in La Cage.  It's a tribute to the deft handling of the director and his assistants that The Closet can be touching and droll by lampooning the "outing" with veracity.

The Closet

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