The Valet (La Doublure)
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For two years now, billionaire Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteul) has been having an affair with supermodel Elena Simonsen (Alice Taglioni). For two years, he’s promised to leave his wife, Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), but everyone knows he’ll never do it—because Christine owns all of the businesses he runs. Without his wife, Pierre would be nothing. One day, though, the morning paper publishes a picture of Pierre and Elena in a heated discussion—and Christine confronts him about it. In an attempt to save face, Pierre tells Christine that the beautiful young woman is obviously with the other man in the picture—and to cover up his lie, he goes in search of the other man.

The other man is François Pignon (Gad Elmaleh), a parking valet for a fancy restaurant, who’s recently had some bad luck with women. The love of his life, Émilie (Virginie Ledoyen), just turned down his proposal, saying that she thought of him more as a brother—and that she couldn’t possibly get married until she paid off the debts she’d incurred after opening her bookstore. So when Pierre offers to pay François to allow a supermodel to move into his apartment, François accepts the offer.

Elena agrees to move in with François, and the two become friends as they both struggle with their relationship problems, giving each other advice and assistance. Meanwhile, their friends and family are shocked by their unlikely relationship.

This French comedy by writer/director Francis Veber (who also made The Closet) offers an entertaining story and plenty of laughs. It’s a simple (and rather predictable) story about jealousy and revenge, but it’s fast-paced and funny, with great comedic performances. I fell in love with Auteul when I saw him in The Closet—and though his role in The Valet doesn’t offer nearly as many side-splitting opportunities as his role in The Closet did, he still does a great job of injecting humor into a role that’s not as obviously comedic. And Elmaleh seems to be following right along in Auteul’s comedic footsteps, mastering the same facial expressions and comedic timing that made Auteul so fun to watch.

Though parts of the story are definitely a little far-fetched, The Valet is wildly entertaining nonetheless. At times, it’s just plain cute—but it’s also filled with over-the-top situations that make it hilarious in an almost vaudevillian kind of way. And while it may not be quite as flat-out hysterical as The Closet, it’s still well worth checking out.

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