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Après vous...

(2005) *** R
110 min. Paramount Classics. Director: Pierre Salvadori. Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Jose Garcia, Sandrine Kiberlain, Marilyne Canto, Michele Moretti.

Pierre Salvadori's consistently engaging Après vous... begins with an interesting situation and complicates it into delightfully excruciating farce: what's not to like? Veteran Daniel Auteuil (The Closet) plays Antoine, a harried restaurant manger too busy to notice that he's not particularly happy. One night, while cutting through a park and dashing home to his neglected girlfriend Christine (Maryline Canto), Antoine runs into Louis (José Garcia), a sack so sad that he's hanging himself from a tree.

After saving Louis's life, Antoine can't bring himself to just take off and leave the suicidal Louis to try again, so he brings him home and introduces him as an old friend. Quickly, Antoine convinces himself that he's responsible for Louis until he's standing on his own two feet, but that task's easier said than done for the despondent Louis, who still pines for his ex-girlfriend Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain). Louis hatches a two-pronged plan: get Louis a job at his restaurant as a sommelier, and trick florist Blanche into falling in love with Louis.

Naturally, hijinks ensue, with Louis's nerve-wracking job interview before a three-person panel a comic highlight (Antoine attempts to coach him from the other side of the table). Louis gets the job, but his fear that things will fall on him makes every step—beneath candelabra-styled lighting fixtures—a challenge, not to mention that he only knows the first thing about the wine he's recommending. Just as life starts looking up for Louis, including the prospect of returning to Blanche's affections, Blanche and Antoine fall for each other.

Après vous... deals lightly with romantic obsession and sexual duplicity (Blanche deadpans at one point, "'I love you. I'm sorry.': a man thing."), but it mostly succeeds on the strength of its sensitive and droll performances, which are a meal in themselves.

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Aspect ratios: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Number of discs: 1

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, 5.1 Surround

Street date: 11/8/2005

Distributor: Paramount Home Video

Paramount's bare-bones disc of Après vous... presents the film with a bright, crisp, colorful anamorphic transfer and French Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 sound mixes to match (subtitled, but of course). The disc begins with an anti-piracy ad and previews for The Oprah Winfrey Show—20th Anniversary Collection, Mad Hot Ballroom, Winter Solstice, Schultze gets the blues, and The Machinist, but otherwise lacks for extras.
Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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