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A FilmExposed Film Review

My Best Friend (Mon meilleur ami) (12A)

My Best Friend (Mon meilleur ami) (12A)

Dir: Patrice Leconte, 2006, France, 90mins, French with subtitles

Recalling some of Patrice Leconte’s previous films in which the action is initiated by the coming together of two strangers, My Best Friend hinges on the chalk-and-cheese relationship between François (Auteuil), an aloof, self-serving antiques dealer, and Bruno (Boon), an affable, altruistic taxi driver. When François learns from his ‘friends’ that none of them actually like him, he rises to their challenge of introducing them to his best friend. But first he must find one…

My Best Friend opens promisingly with some striking cinematography. The scene is set in a church for a funeral of a ‘friend’ of François’s, and the steely, chill lighting creates an atmosphere that resonates with François’s opportunistic temperament. In addition, the manipulation of the camera is demonstrably hand-held while the mise en scène, in long shot, is only gradually brought into focus. The effect is that the camera is spying on the sombre proceedings from its vantage point. This sense of inquisitiveness – of seeking out – reoccurs later in the film and becomes a visually visceral way of representing François’s desperate search for that elusive (best) friend.

There are further accomplishments to be found, or rather heard, in the film’s sound design and soundtrack. Regarding the former, the audible intricacy of the cacophonous blare of traffic amid heavy rainfall is pitched perfectly to reflect the antihero’s psychological perspective: having just attended an academic lecture on the concept of friendship, François is drowned out by both traffic and rain alike in his newly hostile world. As for the musical soundtrack, which is reminiscent of Yann Tiersen’s bewitching score for Amelie (2001), it touchingly evokes François’s increasing despondency.

Alas, the quality of the aforementioned disciplines is not matched by that of the writing. The implausibilities of the narrative are all too apparent and accentuate the impression that the central hook – that the egocentric protagonist isn’t as popular as he assumed – was hit upon without much due consideration for yielding a credible storyline. However, the film’s prerequisite feel-good climax is a guilty pleasure. Taking place on an internationally recognised game show, it is wholly predictable in its outcome due to the familiarity of the programme in question. But the very predictability of this outcome, ironically, makes it satisfying for it generates its own natural – and gripping – momentum.

Nonetheless, the ending suffers from the same ailment as the rest of the film: it has been manufactured to accommodate the increasingly improbable storyline. With a plot that feels cobbled together so as to bridge a contrived beginning and a predictable conclusion, My Best Friend demonstrates deficient storytelling that is overcooked and underdeveloped.


Matthew Supersad

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