'The Valet': Light and Lively

Friday, May 11, 2007

"The Valet" is a classic French farce, by way of the Toscanini of the form, Francis Veber ("The Dinner Game," "Le Jaguar"). Here, the fabulous Daniel Auteuil plays a Paris industrialist who is photographed with his supermodel girlfriend (the impossibly beautiful Alice Taglioni), then enlists a hapless car-parker (Gad Elmaleh) to cover for him by moving in with her. (See Film Notes on Page 44.)

If it sounds improbable now, just wait: "The Valet" is full of so many outlandish twists and turns that it must be taken with the biggest grain of fleur de sel you can find. Still, viewers willing to suspend disbelief are in for a sunny, funny good time as Veber puts his attractive cast through a series of low-stakes high jinks. Kristin Scott Thomas delivers an unnervingly smooth performance as Auteuil's suspicious wife, and the lovely Virginie Ledoyen plays the object of the valet's unrequited affection.

Everyone in "The Valet" -- even, to a point, the despicable mogul -- is likable; the movie even manages to be somewhat subversive, as it posits the idea that supermodels are people, too. Not to mention smart, kind and down-to-earth people. Quelle surprise!

-- Ann Hornaday

The Valet PG-13, 85 minutes Contains sexual content and profanity. In French with subtitles. Area theaters.

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