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25.8.05

"A Big-Hearted Candide"

Also on Ionarts:

Francis Veber's Le Placard (April 26, 2004)

Francis Veber's Les Compères (November 4, 2003)

Aurélie Nemours (1910–2005) and Jacques Villeret (1951–2005) (January 30, 2005)
Francis Veber is shooting his 11th film, a new comedy about François Pignon, with Kristin Scott Thomas, Daniel Auteuil, and Virginie Ledoyen. Although, as I have written here before, Veber has been living in Hollywood and trying to remake his fabulous movie Le dîner de cons, he is making this movie, La Doublure (Dubbing), in France. An article by Brigitte Baudin (Francis Veber et les tribulations de Pignon, August 12) for Le Figaro has some information, from the studio in Epinay-sur-Seine:
This time trusty Pignon (Gad Elmaleh) is a parking valet. He finds himself, purely by chance, in the middle of a tumultuous affair. Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil), a millionaire businessman, is cheating on his frigid wife, Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), with Elena (Alice Taglioni), a supermodel. Christine happens upon a photo of her husband with his mistress on a tabloid coverpage. She asks him to explain. How to avoid a divorce that could ruin him (his wife holds 60% of the stock in his company)? Who could take the fall?

Happily, in the newspaper photo there is also a passerby: François Pignon. So, Pierre makes his wife believe that there has been a mistake. The one accompanying beautiful Elena is the other man. To make it work, Pierre creates a ruse with Foy (Richard Berry), his lawyer. Elena must go live at Pignon's place, in a public housing building. [...] Before each scene, Francis Veber plans the shot, adjusts a movement, checks an intonation. Without ever raising his voice. He works with his eyes, yes, but even more with his ears. He knows this music well. Each word has been meticulously chosen, tested, weighed in writing. Each reply wisely measured, calibrated, down to the millimeter. Francis Veber is an artisan of the verb. And, if his text seems to flow so easily, it is because it is the fruit of serious work.
Young Moroccan-born actor Gad Elmaleh is only the most recent to play Pignon (the article lists Jacques Brel, Pierre Richard, Daniel Auteuil, and the sublime Jacques Villeret as his predecessors). He clearly understands the character's appeal, as he describes him as "a big-hearted Candid, who is generous, likes to do the right thing, but does not see farther than the end of his nose. I love this pure man, without malice, who unwittingly unleashes catastrophes." I guess Hollywood is done with Veber, since the American adapatation of Le Placard, The Closet, has been turned over, screenplay and direction, to Kenyan-born director Gurinder Chadha. In fact, since Lorne Michaels is producing the movie, I wonder if they have not decided to cast Jimmy Fallon as the Pignon character, after all. Please, if you think you might want to see this film, rent the French original instead.

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