The Films of Francis Veber
Three Fugitives (February 24/07)
It's not terribly surprising to note that Three Fugitives remains Nick Nolte's first (and, thus far, only) foray into the wacky comedy genre, as the film peters out almost immediately following its admittedly strong first act. The story follows a recently paroled ex-con named Lucas (Nolte) as he finds himself caught up in the affairs of bumbling bank robber Ned (Martin Short) and his mute daughter (Sarah Rowland Doroff). Written and directed by Francis Veber, Three Fugitives certainly moves at a brisk pace and benefits substantially from Short and Nolte's expectedly effective work (there is, in fact, little doubt that most of the film's laughs stem from Nolte's extraordinarily grizzled performance). But Veber, by placing an increasingly unwarranted emphasis on the sentimental shenanigans of Ned and his little girl, ultimately transforms the film into an irredeemably uneven piece of work, with the end result an '80s comedy that's deservedly fallen by the wayside.
Out on a Limb
The Dinner Game
The Closet (June 18/07)
The Closet casts Daniel Auteuil as Francois Pignon, a mild-mannered accountant who - after learning that he is to be fired - is forced to pretend that he's gay to save his job. Gerard Depardieu co-stars as a homophobic colleague, while Michele Laroque plays a woman who finds herself suddenly drawn to Francois. Written and directed by Francis Veber, The Closet possesses an amiable and likeable vibe that generally proves impossible to resist - although one certainly can't help but lament the lack of overt laughs. Veber's reluctance to match the film's admittedly broad premise with over-the-top bits of humor is downright perplexing, as there are a number of sequences that would clearly benefit from a more broad sensibility (there's a scene that's virtually crying out for a spit take, for example). That being said, Auteuil delivers as subtle and effective a performance as one might've expected - while Depardieu, though saddled with an arc that's almost egregiously predictable, is responsible for many of the film's few laughs (ie a hilarious sequence in which he showers with a buddy).