Daniel Auteuil plays François Coste, a prosperous antiques dealer with a humongous ego. During a quiet dinner Francois is challenged by his business partner Catherine (Julie Gayet) to prove the existence of a "true friend". He accepts the challenge convinced that this would be an easy win. Unfortunately for Francois his "friends" prove nothing more than business partners with an agenda.
Mon Meilleur Ami a.k.a My Best Friend (2006) is a film with two contrasting halves. The first one is where the story actually works. A man whose entire life has suddenly collapsed under the weight of an extraordinarily realization begins a lonely journey of self-discovery. Business partners, lovers, and "friends" suddenly change the way Francois sees and understands life.
As fate will have it Francois meets Bruno (Dany Boon), a chatty and highly-opinionated taxi driver with a notoriously bad luck at winning a spot in the French equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Francois gets into Bruno's taxi and eventually they break the customer-provider status quo.
The second half is where Mon Meilleur Ami is less than convincing. Patrice Leconte, the French director responsible for The Hairdresser's Husband, drives the story in a familiar direction and what typically elevates his work, refined characters, is the one aspect that notably slows down this film. After the initial encounter between Francois and Bruno the story succumbs to a number of clichés marring the chemistry between the two men.
Pic's desire to be both entertaining and philosophical might cause some viewers to walk away from it with feelings of ho-hum indifference. The balance between the two is clearly problematical even though both Auteuil and Boon are superb in their roles.
On the technical side of things however one would be hard pressed to deny the fact that Leconte is a master with a superb vision. The camera spends a great deal of time exploring the faces of the main protagonists - uncertainty, pain, and joy are revealed flawlessly - thus managing to provide more credibility to a story with an imperfect script. Unfortunately the finale is far from cohesive and lacking the authenticity element pic appeared to have managed during the introductory twenty or so minutes.
In 2007 the film was nominated for Best European Film at the Italian David di Donatello Awards.
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for widescreen TVs the print provided by IFC Films is near top-notch condition. It is progressive, tight to the frame, and without a trace of damage. Contrast is handled very well, colors are lush and very convincing, while edge enhancement isn't an issue of concern. I noticed a tiny flicker in the upper right corner in the beginning of chapter 5 but I believe the occurrence had to do with my player rather the actual print itself. Overall, this is yet another solid presentation from IFC Films.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with a French 5.1 track and optional English, Spanish, and English HOH tracks the audio is very much in top notch condition as well. Dialog is very easy to follow and I did not detect any disturbing drop-out(s) or hissing(s).
In addition to the original theatrical trailer the DVD offers a "Making Of" where the cast and director are seen in action and behind the scene. Monsieur Leconte spends a great deal of time explaining his third collaboration with Daniel Auteuil, the reason behind his decision to cast the French actor again, and the moral the story carries. All in all this a good supplemental piece which brings a bit of clarity to pic's otherwise one-dimensional script.
Patrice Leconte's ability to tell extraordinary stories analyzing ordinary characters has always been his forte. Not so much in My Best Friend however - while the acting is strong the story is flat and unconvincing. The DVD presentation is very good and in sync with IFC Films and their excellent track record as of late.