"Imagine 'The Girl on the Bridge' as enacted by Martin and Lewis"
One of the best French movies in recent years was “The Girl on the Bridge,” an electrifying romantic fantasy about the relationship between a shaky knife-thrower (Daniel Auteuil) and the beautiful woman (Vanessa Paradis) that he rescues from suicide with an offer to become the new target in his act. The new French comedy “Apres Vous” seems to have been designed as a goof on that film–not only does it use a similar set-up for the plot, it even features Auteuil in a role not unlike the one he previously played.Here, he is an overworked headwaiter in a popular bistro who, while running home to see his long-suffering girlfriend, prevents a sad sack (Jose Garcia) from a suicide attempt. Apparently suffering from Clara Nightingale Syndrome (as they called it on “Seinfeld), Auteuil decides that he is now responsible for the doofus and tries to snap him out of his funk by giving him a place to sleep, getting him a job as a sommelier in the bistro (despite his ignorance of wine and utter lack of people skills) and attempting to reunite him with the ex-girlfriend (Sandrine Kiberlain) who helped trigger the suicidal depression in the first place. The latter is complicated somewhat when he inevitably begins to fall for the girl as well.
Like too many recent French comedies, the biggest flaw with “Apres Vous” is that it simply isn’t that funny–although the idea of a weirdo dismantling the life of his super-cool benefactor might sounds like the launching pad for some Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis-style hi-jinks, the comedy here is paced too slowly and as a result, it never begins to build the head of comic steam that might have pushed it over the top. There are only a few amusing moments here and there (I love a bit where Auteuil tries to track the girl down using a silhouette instead of a photograph) and most of the remaining interest comes from having the opportunity to see serious actors like Auteuil and Kiberlain getting a chance to cut loose with lighter material for a change.However, “Apres Vous” is just too bland and formless to generate enough laughs to warrant a recommendation. The premise, though, is appealing enough that I can see someone taking it on in the near-future, tightening up the dead spots and emerging with something worthwhile. Actually, this could be the rare occasion where the all-but-inevitable English-language remake (with such an easy-to-grasp premise, you know it is only a matter of time) actually has a chance of improving on the original.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 City of Lights / City of Angels Film Festival. For more in the 2004 City of Lights / City of Angels Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.