Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Gérard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte
Director: Francis Veber
Running Time: 84 mins
The Closet (Le placard) is a French film about a man who, on the verge of being fired, pretends to be gay to help keep his job. However, while the plan initially works out, it has all manner of unintended consequences.
This is a pretty fun film. With a silly story that’s neither malicious nor overly idiotic in its intent, The Closet provides a lot of laughs in a short space of time, with a collection of entertaining performances that play out in a story that pokes fun at modern perceptions of homosexuality.
Although it may not be the story that would be so readily commissioned nowadays, The Closet is a thoroughly enjoyable watch, and its biggest laughs and entertainment value come from how it looks at people who often profess their disapproval or curiosity of homosexuality, making fun of just how overly analytical they are of a person’s actions, or the excessive lengths to which some go to make a person feel welcome, when they suddenly think they’re gay.
As a result, it’s a story that everyone understands the reality of, and with its pleasantly farcical atmosphere throughout, the movie does a good job of bringing it to life in entertaining fashion. Most of the best jokes do indeed come from the characters and the story, but there are also a good few silly slapstick gags here and there, and it all comes together to make a film that’s very easy-going throughout.
The performances, too, aren’t half bad, and Daniel Auteuil does a great job in the lead role, as we watch his character develop from what people call ‘a drag’ to someone who is a lot more confident, even though he has to go through the rather ridiculous farce of pretending he’s gay to keep his job, prompting prying eyes from all of his colleagues.
In fact, while I say this is a very lightweight and simple film, there is also a genuinely engrossing story surrounding Auteuil’s character, as he comes out of his shell after two years of depression following a divorce, establishing good friendships with new people around him, adding a rather uplifting element into the mix alongside all of the farce.
Gérard Depardieu is also a surprise here, in an unorthodox role as a ‘gay-bashing’ rugby coach who then goes to great lengths to prove he’s not homophobic, with wildly unintended consequences following. It’s not the main role of the movie, but Depardieu’s scenes are arguably the most memorable of the whole film, and his brilliantly awkward relationship with Auteuil’s character once he realises he’s gay makes for some excellent laughs at his expense.
Overall, I had a good bit of fun with The Closet. It’s a simple and easy-going comedy with some good laughs here and there, furthered by an enjoyable story and good performances throughout. It’s not quite a masterpiece, but it’s easily enough to entertain for the duration of its runtime, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4.