A meal in a restaurant in
France is something of a surprise to Americans. There it is a
celebration, it is an art, it is a happening. You will never get
rushed out of your table by an impatient waiter like in the United States;
in fact good luck getting your check if you are in a hurry.
This more laid back,
civilized lifestyle also extends to the romantic comedies. You don't
always have to be bum rushed by the hard sell of The Wedding Crashers or
Must Love Dogs. Not that those weren't enjoyable in their own
ways. Sometimes something lighter is just a better fit for the
By lighter I don't mean
sunnier — there are some rather dark, tangy passages in this delightful
confection. By lighter I also do not mean meaningless — this is a
love comedy that stands tall with any that came out of Hollywood.
However, like that French meal, Après Vous is content to have you
just sit back as it dollops out sumptuous treats, and then gives you time to
digest all that you have eaten.
As you may have guessed,
Après Vous is based around one of these Parisian Bistros. Antoine
(Daniel Auteuil of Jean de Florette, The Widow of St. Pierre and
The Closet) plays a good natured waiter in an upscale Paris cafe.
Antoine is hard-working and giving to a fault — he always puts his career
and other people before his personal life, particularly ahead of his
long-suffering girlfriend Christine (Marilyne Canto).
One day, when as usual
rushing to meet Christine despite the fact that he is late because he got
caught up at work, Antoine stumbles upon a man (José Garcia) trying to kill
himself. Antoine saves his life, but is surprised to find that Louis
is not only not grateful, he is depressed and angry about it. With his
good-Samaritan streak, Antoine sets about trying to set Louis' life straight
— at great cost to him — both monetarily and in terms of respect.
Antoine gets Louis a job at his restaurant although he has no experience or
skills in the area. (It's funny that a film that luxuriates in the
warmth of the restaurant business can also skewer it — suggesting that any
crazy person can pretend enough to be a good wine steward and no one will be
any the wiser.)
Antoine also starts covertly
investigating the woman who broke Louis' heart. Blanche is a
sweet-but-confused florist, and when Antoine tries to set the wheels in
motion for getting the two back together, he is disturbed to find he has
feelings for Blanche himself.
All of this is as light as a
soufflé, but like a soufflé it requires and exacting and perfect set of
ingredients to keep it from falling on itself. Happily, this soufflé
is a great success. (8/05)
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Posted: August 21, 2005.