The Closet (Le Placard)
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Gérard Depardieu, Michèle Laroque, Thierry L'Hermite, Michel Aumont, Jean Rochefort
Francois Pignon (Auteuil) is an unremarkable man. He is divorced with an ex-wife, who wants little to do with him, a teenage son who wants nothing to do with him, and he is totally ignored by his fellow employees at a large condom plant where he has worked for twenty years as a minor accountant.
We join Pignon as he is about to be fired. With his job gone, Pignon seriously considers jumping off his balcony. At the last moment a neighbor stops him. After several Armangnacs together, the neighbor comes up with a plan for the pitiful Pignon. He "doctors" photos of Pignon in a gay bar fondling a lover and sends them to the CEO of the Condom Company. The neighbor, being gay, instructs Pignon to come out of a closet he never went into. Francois Pignon protests mildly but, with little to lose, goes along with the plan.
The CEO shocked at the photos and flabbergasted that Pignon is gay, wants no trouble from activists (particularly because of what his company produces), and decides to let Pignon keep his job. The plan has worked and Pignon is delighted. It makes little difference to Francois if his fellow workers think he is gay or not. Up to now, they haven't thought of him at all.
The photos become the gossip of the company. Felix (Depardieu), an Executive VP who happens to be a homophobe and a "macho" bully is instructed to be particularly friendly to Francois lest he lose his job. The CEO has demanded that Felix end his gay bashing jokes and make every effort to befriend Pignon, whom he hates.
To relate any further narrative about this film would be to give away the fun. Obviously, Francois Pignon's life changes drastically. The scenes between Depardieu and Auteuil are worth the price of admission. Yet, many hilarious events happen to poor Pignon during this ordeal. Wait until you see "The Parade"! I will say no more.
If this had been an American film, it would have flopped. Only the French could have pulled this one off. I still have no idea why I found myself laughing continuously throughout this silly film. It's basically a "one joke" story and it should have fallen apart during the first 30 minutes. Veber's writing /directing and his impressive cast make the difference. Depardieu and Auteuil are at the top of their game! I should also point out the outstanding performance of Michèle Laroque as Pignon's immediate supervisor who doesn't quite buy the whole story.
This may not be the 'classic" French farce but it will keep you chuckling for days. I believe that is the point, non?