Buddy Pick

To keep your best friend, you have to find him first.

My Best Friend French comedies buddy pictures Directed by Patrice Leconte; Written (in French, with English subtitles) by Jérôme Tonnerre and Leconte, based on a story by Olivier Dazat; Starring Daniel Auteuil, Dany Boon, and Julie Gayet; 95 minutes; Rated PG-13; Opens Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre
BFF: Dany Boon and Daniel Auteuil.
BFF: Dany Boon and Daniel Auteuil.
Light, airy, and sweet, My Best Friend, Patrice Leconte's latest comedy, swings the director's favorite premise -- fruitful encounters between opposites -- away from romance and into the wistful hunger for friendship in a careerist world.

To do this, Leconte gives us François, an ambiguously successful antiques dealer who treats everyone around him with the same chilly dispassion he brings to his pursuit of beautiful art. When his business partner (Julie Gayet) challenges François to a pricey bet that he can't come up with a true friend in 10 days, he finds himself stumped for buddies until he meets his opposite, Bruno. Portrayed by the adorable Dany Boon, Bruno is a sociable cab driver and collector of Panini stickers. He gives François free instruction in how to be loyal and sympathetic.

But the lesson eventually backfires, and their rocky friendship is tested in an uproarious and tender climax on the set of -- what else? -- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, where Bruno captures France's heart just by being a nervous wreck.

As François, Daniel Auteuil slyly tweaks his easy geniality into a subtle form of heedlessness. And director Leconte embraces sentimentality with the wisdom of a seasoned man and the light, goofy heart of a teenager. But he's never glib or condescending, and his mastery of tone makes this delightful farce a nutty feel-gooder about the difference between a friend and a contact.

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