Valet
There’s something phallic about this image … I can’t put my finger on it.

Theatrical Release Date: 03/29/2006 (France), 04/20/2007 (USA)
Director: Francis Veber
Cast: Gad Elmaleh, Alice Taglioni, Daniel Auteuil, Kristin Scott Thomas, Virginie Ledoyen

When I think of French marriages, I think of mistresses. When I think of French cinema about marriage, I think of mistresses and wives getting the upper hand on their cheating beaus.

With “The Valet”, my thinking is once again dead on.

The story is far from original. A billionaire CEO is cheating on his wife with a supermodel. A parking valet is heartbroken over the woman that he loves not wanting to marry him.

Through ridiculous circumstance and scheming, the parking valet and the supermodel must live together to save the CEO’s marriage – since it keeps him in a position of power. In the process, the valet tries to win back the love of his life who is understandable jealous that he’s apparently moved on to a new woman.

However, as trite and cliché the film’s plot is, they assembled a very good team to make it all work.

Writer/director Francis Veber, who’s best known in America for “The Dinner Game”, is at the steering wheel here and succinctly maneuvers the film through its paces and keeps it all fun and lively.

The actors all play their parts to perfection, meeting your expectations and giving the characters a sincerity and heart that helps keep the film from becoming just another French farce.

Daniel Auteuil as the CEO does a wonderful job of being the cheating buffoon, over-the-top but in all the fun ways. Alice Taglioni makes for one beautiful supermodel and really is the lynchpin to the whole film, as it is her ability to be believable that makes the entire film work.

And of course, Gad Elmaleh, as the titular valet, does a nice job of being that vulnerable, sweet puppy dog that you can’t help but cheer for.

As with most French cinema, I have issues with the ending – in this instance finding it all far from resolved. Still, I was generally left with that warm, fuzzy feeling you might expect from such light fare.

A 3 out of 5, “The Valet” isn’t a complicated film and it doesn’t pretend to be. What you see is what you get and if all you want is a little whiff of good-natured fun, you’re looking in the right direction with this one.