The Closet review

Bloody good laugh, this. Following the pristine buffoonery of Le Dîner De Cons, one-man farce-factory Francis Veber has engineered another polished comedy that never lets its gender politics get in the way of a good gag.

The set-up's vintage Veber, right down to the protagonist (über-nerd François Pignon is a doltish creation reprised in many of his movies). All slump and sag, Daniel Auteuil's Pignon is a damp-handshake of a man whose accountancy job at a condom factory is under threat. With the thundercloud of a recent divorce also drizzling over his head, Pignon is about to top himself when a next-door neighbour suggests a solution - - reinvent himself as a gay sex-machine and, if he gets the boot, he can sue the company for sexual discrimination. As a manipulated photo of Pignon in leather gimp gear does the office rounds, so the attitudes of those around him change. Even if Pignon clearly doesn't.

A bubbly confection with a sustained rumble of bellylaughs, Veber borrows the premise of earlier hit La Cage Aux Folles (two gay men pretending to be straight) and turns it on its head. Yes, it's lightweight, sitcom stuff but the casting's supreme.

Caught in the headlights of his own scheme, Auteuil's hopeless, hangdog pouting is priceless, especially when it's pitched against Gérard Depardieu's homophobic warthog (their reconciliatory dinner-date is prime toe-curling farce). The oops-where's-me-trousers climax may be unapologetically Carry On, but the punchline proper is less expected: frothy and feelgood, The Closet's a farce with genuine heart.

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