The Closet (2001 film)

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The Closet (Le Placard)
French film poster
Directed by Francis Veber
Written byFrancis Veber
Produced by Patrice Ledoux
Starring Daniel Auteuil
Gérard Depardieu
Thierry Lhermitte
Cinematography Luciano Tovoli
Edited byGeorges Klotz
Music by Vladimir Cosma
Distributed by Gaumont Buena Vista International [1]
Release date
  • 17 January 2001 (2001-01-17)
Running time
84 minutes
Budget$14.5 million
Box office$50.1 million [2]

The Closet (French : Le placard) is a 2001 French comedy film written and directed by Francis Veber. It is about a man who pretends to be homosexual to keep his job, with absurd and unexpected consequences.



François Pignon, an unassuming divorced man with a teenage son who ignores him, lives a quiet and unremarkable life as an accountant in a rubber factory. On the factory photoshooting day he's left behind the scene. When he learns he's about to get downsized, he contemplates suicide, but his new neighbor Jean-Pierre Belone, a former industrial psychologist, dissuades him from jumping from his balcony and suggests a way to keep his position. Belone proposes that Pignon start a rumor he is homosexual by inserting his image in sexually provocative snapshots of a gay couple in a bar and anonymously mailing them to his factory's CEO, Mr. Kopel. The factory's primary product is condoms, so the gay community's support is essential, and Kopel will have to keep Pignon on the payroll to avoid charges of anti-homosexual bigotry.

Pignon does not change his usual mild and self-effacing behavior and mannerisms in any way as part of his masquerade. But his supervisors and co-workers begin to regard him in a new light, seeing him as exotic rather than dull, and his life becomes unexpectedly and dramatically better. Félix Santini, a homophobic co-worker who used to harass him, is warned he could be fired for discrimination if he continues to belittle Pignon, so he begins to make friendly overtures. However, when two of the workers notice him waiting for his son near the school entrance they start thinking Pignon is into children, and after talking to Pignon's colleague Ariana they attack him in his house parking, breaking his collarbone.

The company enters a float in a local gay pride parade, and Pignon is coerced into riding on it; his estranged son sees him in the televised broadcast of the parade and tells his mother. The son is thrilled to learn his father, whom he has always considered bland and boring, has a wilder side, and expresses an interest in spending more time with him. His suspicious ex-wife Christine invites Pignon to dinner and demands an explanation. He has by this point gained enough self-confidence to tell her exactly what he thinks of her.

Meanwhile, Santini's charade of friendship has developed into an obsessive attraction; his wife suspects him of having an affair when she finds a receipt for an expensive pink cashmere sweater, and leaves him when he buys Pignon chocolates. After this, Santini invites Pignon to move in with him. When Pignon turns him down, Santini snaps, a fight ensues, and Santini is fired and institutionalized to recover from his emotional breakdown.

Eventually, Pignon's ruse is discovered when Kopel catches him making wild love on the factory conveyor to his supervisor, Mlle Bertrand, in the middle of a factory tour held for Japanese guests. However, he has become so assertive that he keeps his job, relates to his son, patches up his relationship with Santini restoring the latter's employment, cheers up Belone, and lives happily ever after with Mlle Bertrand. The finale is similar to the starting scene, but now Pignon literally pushes his way back into the photo and (accidentally) his former offenders out of it, which results in a broken collarbone for one of them.



Exteriors were filmed in Chaville, Clamart, Suresnes, and central Paris. Interiors were shot in Studios Éclair in Epinay-sur-Seine.


The film was first released in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. Later the film was shown at the L'Alliance Française French Film Festival in Australia, the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, and the Seattle International Film Festival, and went into limited release in the US.


Critical reception

The Closet holds a 85% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 80 reviews.

Stephen Holden of the New York Times called it "giddy social comedy" and "a classic French farce" and added, "What's so liberating about The Closet is its refusal to walk on politically correct eggshells. The target of its blunt lusty humor is as much exaggerated political correctness and the panic it can engender as it is bigotry." [3]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said, "The movie passes the time pleasantly and has a few good laughs ... But the screenplay relies too much on the first level of its premise and doesn't push into unexpected places. Once we get the setup, we can more or less anticipate the sitcom payoff, and there aren't the kinds of surprises, reversals and explosions of slapstick that made La Cage Aux Folles so funny. In the rating system of the Michelin Guide, it's worth a look, but not a detour or a journey." [4]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called the film "a bonbon spiked with mirth and malice" and noted, "Auteuil and Depardieu spar hilariously, and writer-director Francis Veber, following The Dinner Game , offers another delicious treat." [5]

Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly rated the film A−, calling it a "cagey, high gloss comedy" and a "perfectly built French tickler." [6]

Box office

The film grossed an estimated $25 million in France from more than 5 million admissions. [1] It was the third highest-grossing film in France during 2001 behind Amélie and La Vérité si je mens ! 2 . [7] It grossed $6,678,894 in the US and Canada and $18 million in other foreign markets for a worldwide box office of $50,104,745. [8]

Awards and nominations

Daniel Auteuil was named Best Actor at the Shanghai International Film Festival.

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  1. 1 2 "Gallic B.O. top 10". Variety . 30 April 2001. p. 60.
  2. "LE PLACARD". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  3. New York Times, June 29, 2001
  4. Chicago Sun-Times, July 6, 2001
  5. Rolling Stone, July 19, 2001
  6. Entertainment Weekly, July 11, 2001
  7. James, Alison (24 December 2001). "Homegrown pix gain in Europe". Variety . p. 7.
  8. The Closet at Box Office Mojo