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Le Diner De Cons Review

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Every Wednesday night, a group of smug Parisian professionals hold a "diner de cons" to which each brings an unknowing idiot who competes for the title of prize idiot.

★★★★

Every Wednesday night, a group of smug Parisian professionals hold a "diner de cons" to which each brings an unknowing idiot who competes for the title of prize idiot. This week, publisher Pierre Brochant (L'hermitte) has been set up with tax inspector Francois Pignon (Villeret), a chubby little maladroit who could bore for France about his hobby of making models from matchsticks.

However, Brochant is laid up by a golfing injury and has to cry off the dinner. Pignon still manages to get into Brochant's spacious apartment and when the publisher's alienated wife walks out, he makes a series of disastrous phone calls. Somehow, Pignon attracts to the central set a succession of unhelpful interlopers, including a cackling author (from whom Brochant stole his wife in the first place), a flakey and suicidal mistress and a near-rabid fellow tax inspector "who would audit his own mother".

With its single set (there are effective cutaways) and the all-in-one-eventful-evening plot, this could work equally well on the stage as the screen and stands as a perfect example of that most intricate of comedy genres, the French farce. Writer-director Veber delivers a marvellously-wrought plot at exactly the length it can sustain, and manages consistently to pull out situations that provoke laughter and astonishment.

At the heart of the story is a moral lesson learned by the callous Brochant, but thanks to a showboating performance by the tiny Villeret - who comes across as a more childlike Danny DeVito - the central idiot Pignon manages to be genuinely appalling as he says exactly the wrong thing, just in time to further hinder Brochant's chances of getting back with his wife or even out of the evening alive.

Writer-director Veber delivers a marvellously-wrought plot at exactly the length it can sustain, and manages consistently to pull out situations that provoke laughter and astonishment in a classic example of the French farce.

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