- The Valet (2006) movie review: Screenwriter-director Francis Veber – whose credits include La Chèvre, Le Dîner de Cons, and The Closet – succeeds in creating another hilarious farce.
The Valet movie review: Francis Veber strikes again with another clever French-flavored farce
Writer-director Francis Veber has done it again. The Valet / La doublure is another hilarious romp featuring, among other gifted comedians, Daniel Auteuil – the star of Veber’s 2001 comedy hit The Closet.
The plot is fairly simple.
When paparazzi catch billionaire CEO Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil) with his supermodel mistress Elena (Alice Taglioni), the CEO goes to extravagant lengths to avoid a divorce from wife Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas).
Pierre thus hires a lovesick valet, François Pignon (Gad Elmaleh), as a decoy by casting him in the role of Elena’s live-in boyfriend.
Christine, however, is no fool and has a few tricks of her own to torment Pierre.
Those who know Francis Veber well will know what to expect: A guy named Pignon (one of its English-language translations is “pinion”), a case of mistaken identity, moments of genuine friendship, and some clever comedy bits.
The Valet doesn’t disappoint.
Now, it’s easy to call the movie nothing more than an entertaining triumph, but beyond the silly goings-on are touching stories and a bit of social commentary.
For instance, when Pierre’s lawyer, Foix (Richard Berry), asks Pignon to name his price for going along with the plan, the latter asks for an exact amount, nothing more and nothing less. The sum will be enough to pay off the debt the love of his life, Emilie (Virginie Ledoyen), has incurred after opening her own business. As a result, she’ll have the financial freedom to love.
Additionally, Pignon refuses to change his lifestyle even though Foix insists that the valet’s status, job, and wardrobe aren’t suitable for the lover of a top model like Elena.
I should note that the original French title is more inclusive of the film’s core subject matter than its English counterpart: La doublure, which can be translated as “the stand-in.” For as the lowly stand-in Pignon takes on the role of Elena’s lover, it becomes clear he will ultimately impart a few good lessons to the rich and famous.
Something else worth noting: Notwithstanding the movie’s less-than-ideal English-language title, the subtitles as a whole are accurate and do capture Veber’s witty dialogue.
Lastly, although the premise of The Valet seems trite, familiar, and improbable, its knowing humor distracts from its faults. In sum, Francis Veber’s latest is another thoroughly enjoyable French farce.
The Valet / La doublure (2006) cast & crew
Direction & Screenplay: Francis Veber.
Cast: Gad Elmaleh, Daniel Auteuil, Alice Taglioni, Kristin Scott Thomas, Virginie Ledoyen, Richard Berry, Dany Boon, Michel Aumont, Michel Jonasz, Laurent Gamelon, Patrick Mille.
Cinematography: Robert Fraisse.
Film Editing: Georges Klotz.
Music: Alexandre Desplat.
Production Design: Dominique André.
Producer: Patrice Ledouxx.
Production Companies: Gaumont Film Company | EFVE | TF1 Films Production | Kairos (co-production).
Distributor: Gaumont/Columbia TriStar Films (France) | Sony Pictures Classics (United States, 2007).
Running Time: 85 min.
Countries: France | Italy | Belgium.
“The Valet (2006) Movie Review: Gifted Daniel Auteuil in Hilarious Francis Veber Romp” review text © Lauren Creamer; excerpt, image captions, bullet point introduction, and notes/endnotes © Alt Film Guide.
“The Valet (2006) Movie Review” endnotes
The Valet was nominated for one César Award: Shortlisted in the Best Supporting Actor category, Dany Boon eventually lost out to Kad Merad for Don’t Worry, I’m Fine / Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas.
The Valet movie credits via the IMDb.
Gad Elmaleh, Alice Taglioni, and Daniel Auteuil The Valet movie image: Gaumont Film Company.
“The Valet Movie (2006) Movie Review: Gifted Daniel Auteuil in Hilarious Francis Veber Romp” last updated in December 2022.