The Closet (2001)

June 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Daniel Auteuil paying his dues as a fake gay man in 'The Closet'

Written and Directed by Francis Beber

Starring Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Michele Laroque and Michel Aumont

The Closet is a heartfelt, clever and thoughtful comedy about a man who, after a life of being dismissed by everyone around him due to his depressingly boring personality, has had enough. He’s lost everything he values in life- his wife has left him, his kid wants nothing to do with him and he’s inadvertently discovered he’s about to be fired from a company he’s worked at for 20 years. In short, nobody can stand to be around him and he can no longer stand himself. That is, until a new neighbor takes the time to hear his troubles and comes up with a whacky but effective solution to all his worldly problems- come out of the fake closet.

We’ve seen a bunch of these films before. In & Out with Kevin Kline, Three to Tango with Matthew Perry, etc. Often times these types of stories go for predictable sitcom-y schtick related to gay-misunderstandings and suggestive humor- The brilliance of The Closet is that everything is put out in the open. The story is played straight (no pun intended) with the laughs coming from organically humorous incidents and lines and character development, not scenes built around jokes or idiotic misunderstandings. I’m very outspoken about people giving foreign films points for intelligence and skill just because theyre foreign but in this case, the French have given us a superbly understated comedy about gay perception that is above and beyond anything else I’ve seen on the topic.

Gerard Depardieu is fantastic as a homophobic executive with a chip on his shoulder and the rest of the supporting cast is superb, particularly Michel Aumont as Francois’ thoughtful, scheming retiree neighbor with his own cute subplot about a homeless kitten he takes a shining to.

The way the film plays down Francois’ personality to examine the inner-workings of the people around him as they adjust to his new identity is deftly handled and a slyly thoughtful comment on societys perception of homosexuality merely as a concept, giving us some very surprisingly and unusual character and plot developments along the way that are shockingly more logical than most cookie-cutter scripts.

The Closet is a unique, hilarious and thoughtful comedy no matter what language you speak!


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