Friends are unique to each other in the world.
"If you tame me, we will need each other. You will be for me unique in the world. I will be for you unique in the world". So says the fox to the Little Prince, in Antoine De Saint-Exupéry's "Le Petit Prince," when they meet up in the Little Prince's journey. The lonely Prince has asked the fox to play with him but the fox says no, I have no wish to play with you. I am not a tame fox. A discussion then follows as to the meaning of "to tame." The fox answers as above.
This passage, which appears in a journal kept by the taxi-driver Bruno (Dany Boon), is at the heart of this charming and beautifully executed film of discovery, loss, and redemption. True friends are special to each other because they have discovered a need that the other can fulfill. Because of this acknowledged need, they are special (unique) to each other forever.
This is a hard lesson for Monsieur Françoise Coste (Daniel Auteuil), an antiques dealer, to learn, since he believes that he is on top of the world, successful, an engagement calendar full of lunch dates and meetings with business associates, a daughter in college, and a girl friend who seems to adore him. He doesn't think he needs anyone. He's in charge. When he is hit with the hard truth that none of these people (with the exception, perhaps, of his girlfriend), would come to his funeral, he is forced to admit that not only does he have no friends but also that no one likes him.
Being the arrogant, ego-driven man that he is, he denies that he has no friends, and in a basically silly bet, accepts a challenge from his antiques gallery partner, Catherine (Julie Gayet) to prove this hard truth false. The prize is an expensive Egyptian vase that Coste has just purchased, against the wishes of Catherine, because he took a fancy to the vase. In the process of coming up with a "best friend" within 10 days, to win the bet, Coste learns what friendship means, and just how far off the mark he really was.
I am a great fan of Daniel Auteuil, and love him in this role as much as in any of his previous roles. Of course, he is greatly helped along by Dany Boon, who plays the talkative, easy-going, friendly taxi driver, Bruno. Equally friendless, but not equally unlikeable, Bruno good-naturedly, almost affectionately, agrees to Coste's request to become his teacher in friend-making.
First, Coste has to admit that he has a need, or problem. "A friend is someone you can call at 3:00 in the morning to help you with a problem," says Bruno.
"I don't have any problems," replies Coste.
"Yes, you do," retorts Bruno, smiling, "you don't have anyone you can call at 3:00 in the morning." One of the best lines in the film! There are more.
When I left this film, I felt a sense of sheer happiness unlike anything I've felt in a long time. Because I had been late to the film (traffic), I stayed for the next showing to catch those missed 15 minutes, and ended up staying for 45 minutes. I am not sure just yet why it gave me such a sense of joy and hope, but perhaps because it deals so honestly and with such good nature this painful issue of finding, making, and keeping friends in our modern, fast paced, success-driven world. A business contact is not a friend, and no matter how full our business calendars are, its whom we meet in the café for a heart-to-heart chat over an espresso or go for a Sunday morning walk with that is the real measure of our success in the world. If that sounds too tame a definition of friendship, well, Director Patrice Leconte sees it differently.
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