The Closet (le Placard)

Article excerpt

The Closet (Le Placard) * Written and directed by Francis Veber * Starring Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, and Michel Aumont * Miramax Zoe

A gay, revisionist update of Imitation of Life with some peculiarly French twists, The Closet drolly reveals how passing for gay can save lives. Before receiving a pink slip from the large condom company where he works, a dull, poker-faced straight accountant named Francois Pignon (his name a Gallic signifier of geekiness) first opts to jump from his balcony.

But he's talked out of it by the retired corporate psychologist next door, an older gay man named Belone (Michel Aumont). Belone's brainstorm is that Francois (played by the great, ubiquitous Daniel Auteuil)--who's already suffering from his beloved wife's cruel departure, along with their teenage son--feign gayness so that management will be obliged to keep him on. Francois reluctantly agrees.

Auteuil's deadpan preening makes the recycled gags about miscalculated sexual leanings bearable, and the comedy is further boosted by the revelation that the helpful Belone is actually taking his revenge on the heterosexual power structure that made his own working life miserable. There's also a superb turn by Gerard Depardieu--besides Auteuil, France's other internationally renowned middle-aged actor--as Felix, the macho, homophobic capo of human resources who is forced by his bosses to make nice with Francois. …


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