PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT -- In French with English substitles at the Outer Circle 2.

If "Practice Makes Perfect" were anything but a French comedy, the protagonist would be considered a philandering cad who neglects his wife and children to chase women, whom he then neglects to chase other women. However, our hero lives in a civilized little world in which divorced couples remain the best of friends, and everyone smiles tolerantly at the thought of affairs.

Those who've been waiting patiently for another movie with the sparkle and wit of "Dear Inspector" will find it in "Practice Makes Perfect." And that's no surprise, because this new French film, a fast-paced sophisticated romantic comedy, is the product of the same writer-director team of Michael Audiard and Phillipe de Broca.

Life isn't easy for Edouard Choiseul.A gifted concert pianist with a wildly successful recording and performing career, he spends most of his time juggling the demands of his wife, ex-wife, mistress, exmistress, mistress-to-be be, manager and assorted students, musicians and children. It's the sort of situation resulting in lines like his daughter's "Mom, it's Dad's wife," when their phone rings. Or his mistress asking, "You seem so preoccupied -- is there some one else?"

Poor Choiseul. All he wants to do is make everybody happy. But his wife spends one lonely evening too many, and announces her plans for divorce. His ex-wife is happy with her new husband. His children? They don't need him -- they have a mother and a grandmother, he's informed tartly. Girlfriends, past and present, are unavailable, Our indefatigable hero, not one to sit around idly, end up living over a hardware store with a new mission in life: teaching piano to the owner's son.

In addition to de Broca's stylish direction, much of the movie's success is due to Jean Rochefore, who conveys a wonderfully world-weary image ad Edouard Choiseul. As Rochefort plays him, Choiseul is a victim of his own sex appeal -- an eminently likable womanizer, bouncing from woman to woman with mock-serious frenzy.Annie Girardot, Danielle Darrieux, Nicole Garcia, Catherine Alric and Catherine Le Prince give equally impressive performances as the women in his life.