Les Apprentis

on August 01, 2008 by Lael Lowenstein
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   At last, a buddy film that reinvigorates the genre. In "The Apprentices," when womanizing loafer Fred (Guillaume Depardieu) finds himself sharing an apartment with Antoine (Francois Cluzet), a depressed, antisocial journalist, the two men start off disliking one another. Eventually their hostility gives way to empathy in a series of scenes at once comic and moving. In need of cash, they conspire to rob Antoine's office, a bungled affair with disturbing consequences for Antoine.
   To his credit, director Pierre Salvadori reins in the comic scenes before they become burlesque. He's aided by a script full of intelligent, poetic, and bracingly original dialogue that, mercifully, survives translation. It's this combination of humor and pathos that sets "Les Apprentis" apart from formulaic buddy movies. Fred and Antoine's uneasy bonding is more reminiscent of Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo in "Midnight Cowboy" than of Tango and Cash. In only his third screen role (after "Touts les Matins du Monde" and "Cible Emou-vante"), Depardieu emerges from his father Gerard's shadow to prove himself a talent worth watching. As Antoine, the more seasoned Cluzet conveys an innocence that recalls Peter Sellers in "Being There." Starring Guillaume Depardieu and Francois Cluzet. Directed by Pierre Salvadori. Written by Pierre Salvadori and Philippe Harel. Produced by Philippe Martin. No distributor set. Comedy. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 95 min
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