The Closet

A straight man reluctantly pretends to be gay in this sometimes surprisingly funny farce. Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil), an accountant at a condom factory, is a real nowhere man: Not a bad fellow really, but dull. Most of the time you scarcely notice him, and when you do, there's something vaguely annoying about his mild-mannered ways. Francois is still...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A straight man reluctantly pretends to be gay in this sometimes surprisingly funny farce. Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil), an accountant at a condom factory, is a real nowhere man: Not a bad fellow really, but dull. Most of the time you scarcely notice him, and when you do, there's something vaguely annoying about his mild-mannered ways. Francois is still desperately in love with his ex-wife, Christine (Alexandra Vandernoot), who can't so much as bother herself to return his phone calls; their teenage son Franck (Stanislas Crevillién) has adopted her attitude and visits his doting father only under pressure. And now, on top of everything, Francois overhears a bullying co-worker, Felix Santini (Gérard Depardieu), discussing the fact that Francois is about to be fired. Francois is ready to throw himself off the balcony of his tidy little apartment when a new neighbor intervenes. Belone (Michel Aumont), an older man with a soothing, avuncular manner, persuades Francois to pour out his troubles, then makes a suggestion based on his own background in human resources management. Belone will send an anonymous envelope to Francois's employer, containing a doctored photo of Francois at a gay bar. Once word gets around that Francois is homosexual, the company won't fire him for fear of a discrimination suit. Francois agrees, though not without considerable trepidation — how should he go about acting gay? Don't, his new friend counsels — just act like yourself and let the rumor mill do its work. To Francois's considerable surprise, the plan not only works, but makes him more interesting to his co-workers. Francois's son even starts thinking his dad's cool after seeing him perched on the company's Gay Pride Day parade float, an oversized condom on his head. The only person who doesn't quite believe the charade is Francois's beautiful, clever co-worker, Mlle Bertrand (Michèle Laroque), who attempts to "out" Francois by seducing him. Meanwhile, conniving personnel director Guillaume (Thierry Lhermite) sees an opportunity to take the macho, boorish Felix down a peg or two: He convinces Felix that if he doesn't reform his homophobic attitudes, it's Felix's job that will be on the line. And Felix must start by being very, very nice to Francois. Though all this "is he or isn't he" nonsense could be horribly coarse and clichéd, it's amusing more often than it isn't, largely because the cast is so nonchalant and, well, French about everything. (In French, with English subtitles)

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A straight man reluctantly pretends to be gay in this sometimes surprisingly funny farce. Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil), an accountant at a condom factory, is a real nowhere man: Not a bad fellow really, but dull. Most of the time you scarcely notice hi… (more)

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