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15. Le Placard (The Closet)

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Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil) works for a condom manufacturer. He is an accountant who has been working at the factory for 20 years. A meek uninteresting bore, his wife divorced him two years earlier, his son despises him, and at work his colleagues smirk about how nerdy he is.

He learns that he is about to be fired.

Back at home, he tells his story to a neighbour called Belone (Michel Aumont). Belon listens and has an idea that will allow Francois to keep his job. Francois simply has to pretend to be gay. His theory is that the condom company will be terrified of the ramifications if it fires a gay man.

Belone fabricates photographs that show Pignon being overtly friendly with a leather-clad man. He mails them to workers at the factory. As anticipated, the news spreads quickly, and Pignon's colleagues now assume that his introverted personality is just an attempt to conceal his real self.

Santini (Gerard Depardieu) is an HR manager at the factory, who is also a rugby coach and a homophobic bigot He now feels obliged to befriend Pignon. Guillaume (Thierry Lhermitte) reinforces Santini's fears by telling him that he could be fired for political incorrectness.

Meanwhile, Pignon's co-workers are intrigued by the new Francois Pignon. For example, his female boss found him tedious when he was straight, but is keen to seduce him now.

As planned, the company fears a lawsuit, and feels obliged to keep him. Better still he is now universal acknowledged as an unusually interesting person.

Very funny. Light entertainment with most of the humour coming from people's reactions - especially the Gerard Depardieu character who has to make an effort to be politically correct. An incisive look at bigotry and political correctness, with some insights into French corporate life.

Incidentally, the character name François Pignon has been used in four other films by Francis Veber: L'Emmerdeur (1973), Les Compères (1983), Les Fugitifs (1986), and Le Dîner de cons (1998). It always belongs to an amiable fool.

Genre: comedy Drama
84 min
Director: Francis Veber
Country: France
Writing credits: Francis Veber, also dialogue
Produced by
Patrice Ledoux — producer
Alain Poiré — line producer
Original Music: Vladimir Cosma
Cinematography: Luciano Tovoli
Colour: Eastmancolor
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital

Daniel Auteuil — François Pignon
Gérard Depardieu — Félix Santini
Thierry Lhermitte — Guillaume
Michèle Laroque — Mlle Bertrand
Jean Rochefort — Kopel, the director
Alexandra Vandernoot — Christine
Stanislas Crevillén — Franck
Michel Aumont — Belone, the neighbour
Edgar Givry — Mathieu
Thierry Ashanti — Victor
Armelle Deutsch — Ariane
Michèle Garcia — Madame Santini
Laurent Gamelon — Alba
Vincent Moscato — Ponce
Irina Ninova — Martine
Marianne Groves — Suzanne
Philippe Vieux — Cop
Luq Hamet — Moreau
Philippe Brigaud — Lambert
Eric Vanzetta — Maitre D
Michel Caccia — Wine waiter
Jean-Paul Zucca — Watchman
Joël Demarty — Photographer
Dominique Thomas — Mover
Akihiko Nishida — Japanese visitor 1
Hiro Uchiyama — Japanese visitor 2
Yongsou Cho — Japanese visitor 3
Onochi Seietsu — Japanese visitor 4
Sylvaine Perrin — L'ouvrière de l'usine

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