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The Closet

Come Out Of The Closet - Even If You Weren't In One To Begin With. 

Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Closet

Francois Pignon (Auteuil ) leads a loser's life. Going through the details - his ex-wife thinks he's a loser, his son thinks he's a loser, his colleagues think he's a loser, and, as the story begins, so does his boss, culminating in rumours that he's about to be sacked. If that's not funny yet, consider this - he works in a condom factory. His neighbour (Aumont) comes to the rescue by inventing rumours that Francois is gay - and well, it doesn't sound like good publicity for a condom factory to sack a gay employee. Francois's life soon begins to change: employees exchange I-knew-it-all-alongs; a bullying colleague suddenly has to suck up to him to avoid getting sacked; his son begins to look up to him ... and he appears in a gay parade as a condom mascot.

Le Placard ran successfully in France, not least because of its all-star cast, right down to the supporting players. Perhaps you've not heard of Daniel Auteuil, Gérard Depardieu, Jean Rochefort and Thierry Lhermitte; well, as critic Roger Ebert explains, you can prefer to think of them as Tom Hanks, Brendan Fraser, Michael Douglas and Kevin Pollak.

The film itself is pleasantly funny, and sometimes sweet and heart-warming. Francois' relationship with his melancholic and pessimistic neighbour is poignantly portrayed (with a cute kitten between them), and the contrast of Francois' life before and after he pretended to come out of the closet is brilliantly highlighted with parallels (like a company photo shoot).

Le Placard deals with the issue of homosexuality in a light-hearted way, not having to tiptoe its way carefully through. It is also a farce about how damaging paradigms and perceptions can be. At the end of the day, however, it's about how a man with low self-esteem finds his confidence in the most unexpected way. The dialogue is also funny, even more so for French audiences.

While at first glance it may not seem like a very original movie, it is, rather subtly. I urge you to go for this film; you will find yourself pleasantly smiling through most of it, and some more afterwards. More films should do that. This one's a guarantee.

Sebastian Ng

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)