I really do enjoy the films of French director Francis Veber, and the writer-director of Le dîner de cons (The Dinner Game) (1998), which is one of the funniest films I have ever seen, once again excelled himself with Tais-toi! (2003), which was written by Veber from an idea by Serge Frydman. At its core is the superb pairing of two actors not traditionally associated with belly-laugh comedy, Jean Reno and Gérard Depardieu.
After hiding his ill-gotten gains before being caught by the police and thrown in jail, Ruby (Reno) shares a cell with Quentin (Depardieu), a none-too-intelligent but immensely strong and very good-natured giant, who befriends him and, when the pair manage to escape from prison, follows his new-found chum everywhere, much to his new-found chum’s irritation. Ruby has other plans, you see – he wants to avenge his lover’s death by bumping off his former partners in crime, but Quentin is having none of it, because killing people, as he quite rightly points out, is wrong. There may be trouble ahead…
As with Le dîner de cons, this works so very well by taking an essentially very simple idea but not insulting the audience’s intelligence with cheap laughs, nor trying their patience by wearing the joke too thin. Like its predecessor, it is at its funniest in the interchanges between its two leads, particularly when Quentin compares Ruby’s eyes to that of his favourite horse. Believe me, you’ll know when the moment comes.
And, as with all good French comedy, please resist the temptation to watch a dubbed version – stick with the subtitles, you hear?
85 mins. In French.