The Closet

Director/Writer:Francis Veber
Miramax Films; R; 86 minutes
Cast:Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte

The latest shipment of imported French wit comes from writer-director Francis Veber (The Dinner Game). He assembles a top-notch cast and milks a great scenario with glee. The plot is as follows: a straightlaced factory worker is about to lose his job. His wife has left him and his teen son thinks—correctly perhaps—that Dad's a loser. Poor François (Daniel Auteuil) is about to end it all when his gay neighbor offers an unorthodox solution. He'll kickstart a gay rumor at the condom factory where François works. The boss, fearing bad publicity quickly values François and begins instating anti-sexual discrimination policies. The best part of the gag is that Auteuil plays the exact same character throughout—it's just other people's responses that change. Suddenly his stiff conservatism makes sense. Women find him attractive. The meaty office homophobe (Gerard Depardieu) lavishes eyebrow-raising attention on him after being warned that he must treat François better.

Veber is a master of French comedy, and his usual shtick combines well with light social satire. The Closet was a hit in France, and, subtitles aside, its humor should translate well for American audiences.