My Best Friend and the Art of Love

My Best FriendMy Best Friend, or Mon Meilleur Ami, is one of my favorite films. But I haven’t watched it in a while. And after watching it this afternoon, I was shocked see that I had never written about it. I’ve always thought it a flawed film, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. I do wonder why we Americans can’t seem to make films like this. The American filmmakers who are capable of making such films are too cynical. And I’m not saying that I’m above that. All my fiction is cynical — at least on the surface. (I think about it like M&Ms: a hard cynical shell and a gooey middle.

My Best Friend is about a bet. François (Daniel Auteuil) is a very successful art dealer. His partner, Catherine (Julie Gayet — yes, her) bets him that he has no best friend. Indeed, all his business associates confirm that he has no friends. To give you some idea, the film starts in a church. He is doing business on his cell phone. He says, “Sorry, I have to call you back. My client just got here.” And we see six men carrying a coffin in. He’s there so that he can talk to the widow about a deal they were in the middle of.

Still, François isn’t crude or coarse; he just seems clueless; he never learned what it was to be a friend. So François has a week to present his best friend. And in the process, he spends a great deal of time with a taxi driver, Bruno (Dany Boon). And although it takes a long time for him to realize it, François does have a best friend: Bruno. But he’s still clueless and focused on the bet. This leads to Bruno being devastated, when François stages a demonstration for his colleagues of what a great friend Bruno is. He succeeds: everyone agrees that Bruno is a great friend, but that François is a total jerk.

My Best Friend and Love

The core of My Best Friend is laid out late when Catherine tells François, “You asked about the acid test [of friendship]. There isn’t one. I forget who said, ‘There’s no love, only tests of love.’ The the exact opposite is true. There’s no test. There’s only love.” Catherine admits that her part in the bet was based upon her anger at not being allowed to be François’ friend. He’s just no good at it — or even knows what it means.

By the end of My Best Friend, François seems to have figured out the friendship thing and has many healthy relationships. It is just that none of them are with Bruno who is far too hurt by his betrayal. But, of course, they finally do get back together — acting more like best friends in grammar school than the grown men that they are. We are even left with the two of them accepting of their obvious lies. Because there’s no test. There’s only love.

You owe it to yourself to find and watch My Best Friend. It’s that rarest of things: a “chick flick” for guys. But one that gals will love too.

6 thoughts on “My Best Friend and the Art of Love

  1. Well another reason is that Americans (men mostly, as you have written about before) have a horror of platonic love between two men.

    However as someone who admits she is usually the cynical person in the room (my immediate reaction to the Republicans agreeing to hold a vote on the gun control amendments was to believe they were lying to shut up the Democrats but apparently they are actually going to hold a vote. It will lose but it at least it was voted on), I am not one to talk about such non-cynical things.

    • I don’t really see it. Seems pretty cynical to me. Democrats aren’t going to rush to the polls because their Republican Senator voted against some gun law that they will have some reasonable sounding explanation about how they would have voted for it if it had just [fill in the blank]. I think they had literally nothing to lost from the vote. And even if it had passed, there is no way it would even come close to passing in the house. So I’ve be cynical about that.

      And I could easily write a Marxist Movie Review of My Best Friend. It raises important issues of class, but does not engage with them. And if you take the questions seriously, you will see that their friendship will never last. But I would hate to get so serious about what is such a lovely film. And I believe the film could be made without the troubling issues of class that it raises.

      • I am watching the sit in and I have to admit, I am getting a little bit more hopeful. It will be dashed again in a day but for right now it is slightly better.

  2. I haven’t seen this movie yet (definitely plan to now), but Daniel Auteuil has been a favorite of mine since I first saw him in Un Coeur en Hiver. It was also the first time I’d seen Emmanuelle Béart, and I have to admit that I fell in love with her a little bit. The fact that the soundtrack is some of my favorite music didn’t hurt either. (The story is loosely based on one of the subplots from Lermontov’s “A Hero of Our Times”, which is also an old friend.)

    But back to Daniel Auteuil – he seems to have been born to play emotionally damaged men whose damage I can actually relate to. I don’t always like his characters (and I hope that my friends don’t generally see too close a resemblance!), but I can always understand them. I choose to think that that’s because he’s a really good actor, not because he’s a psychopath…

    • Watching the making of doc, he and Boon seemed to be cutting it up quite a bit. So I think he’s more healthy than he appears on screen. Of course, this is the only film of his I know. I’m doubtless seen him elsewhere, but this is the film I know him from. Do see the film. It’s a lot of fun, although I cried all the way through the second half this last time I watched it.

      I will have to find Un Coeur en Hiver. It sounds really good. Of course, he’s 15 years younger in that one.

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