The Closet (2001 film)

Last updated
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. When he learns he will be fired from his job as an accountant in a rubber factory, 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 boss, 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.

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 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 institutionalized to recover from his emotional breakdown.

Eventually, Pignon's ruse is discovered when Kopel catches him making love in the office to his co-worker, Mlle Bertrand. However, he has become so assertive that he keeps his job, relates to his son, patches up his relationship with Santini, cheers up Belone, and lives happily ever after.



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.

Related Research Articles

<i>Green Card</i> (film) 1990 romantic comedy film

Green Card is a 1990 American romantic comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Peter Weir and starring Gérard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell. The screenplay focuses on an American woman who enters into a marriage of convenience with a Frenchman so he can obtain a green card and remain in the United States. Depardieu won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. The film won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gérard Depardieu</span> French actor (born 1948)

Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu, CQ is a French actor, filmmaker, businessman and vineyard owner since 1989 who is one of the most prolific thespians in film history. He has completed over 250 films since 1967, almost exclusively as a lead. Depardieu has worked with over 150 film directors whose most notable collaborations include Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Maurice Pialat, Alain Resnais, Claude Chabrol, Ridley Scott and Bernardo Bertolucci. He is the second highest grossing actor in the history of French Cinema behind Louis de Funès. As of January 2022, his body of work also include countless television productions, 18 theatre plays, 16 records and 9 books. He is mostly known as a character actor and for having portrayed numerous leading historical and fictitious figures of the Western world including Georges Danton, Joseph Stalin, Honoré de Balzac, Alexandre Dumas, Auguste Rodin, Cyrano de Bergerac, Jean Valjean, Edmond Dantès, Christopher Columbus, Obélix, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daniel Auteuil</span> French actor and director

Daniel Auteuil is a French actor and director who has appeared in a wide range of film genres, including period dramas, romantic comedies, and crime thrillers. In 1996 he won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival together with Belgian actor Pascal Duquenne. He is also the winner of two César Awards for Best Actor, one in 1987 as Ugolin Soubeyran in Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources and one for his role in Girl on the Bridge. For his role in Jean de Florette he also won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Auteuil is considered one of France's most respected actors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Josiane Balasko</span> French actress, writer, and director

Josiane Balasko is a French actress, writer, and director. She has been nominated seven times for César Awards, and won twice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pierre Richard</span> French actor (born 1934)

Pierre Richard is a French actor, film director and screenwriter, best known for the roles of a clumsy daydreamer in comedy films. Pierre Richard is considered by many, such as Louis de Funès and Gérard Depardieu, to be one of the greatest and most talented French comedians in the last 50 years. He is also a film director and occasional singer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Francis Veber</span> French film director, screenwriter, producer, and playwright

Francis Paul Veber is a French film director, screenwriter and producer, and playwright. He has written and directed both French and American films. Nine French-language films with which he has been involved, as either writer or director or both, have been remade as English-language Hollywood films: Le grand blond avec une chaussure noire, L'emmerdeur, La Cage aux Folles, Le Jouet, Les Compères, La chèvre, Les Fugitifs, Le dîner de cons and La Doublure. He also wrote the screenplay for My Father the Hero, the 1994 American remake of the French-language film Mon père, ce héros.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ticky Holgado</span> French actor

Ticky Holgado, pseudonym of Joseph Holgado, was a French actor and a frequent collaborator with Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

<i>The Dinner Game</i> 1998 French film

The Dinner Game is a 1998 French comedy film written and directed by Francis Veber, adapted from his play Le Dîner de Cons. It became that year's top-grossing French film at the French box office.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gad Elmaleh</span> French-Moroccan comedian and actor

Gad Elmaleh is a Moroccan-Canadian stand-up comedian and actor who achieved fame in France, Morocco and the United States. He is best known in the French-speaking world and more recently in the United States.

<i>Partners</i> (1982 film) 1982 gay-themed buddy comedy directed by James Burrows

Partners is a 1982 American gay-themed buddy comedy film directed by James Burrows and starring Ryan O'Neal and John Hurt as a mismatched pair of cops.

<i>Three Fugitives</i> 1989 film by Francis Veber

Three Fugitives is a 1989 American buddy crime-comedy film written and directed by Francis Veber, starring Nick Nolte and Martin Short, with supporting roles by Sarah Doroff, James Earl Jones, Alan Ruck, and Kenneth McMillan in his final film appearance. It is a remake of Les Fugitifs, a 1986 French comedy starring Gérard Depardieu and Pierre Richard also directed by Veber.

<i>Get Out Your Handkerchiefs</i> 1978 film by Bertrand Blier

Get Out Your Handkerchiefs is a 1978 French romantic comedy film directed by Bertrand Blier and starring Carole Laure, Gérard Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere and Riton Liebman. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 51st Academy Awards.

<i>Les Compères</i> 1983 French film

Les Compères is a 1983 French comedy film written and directed by Francis Veber, and starring Gérard Depardieu, Pierre Richard and Anny Duperey. The film had 4,847,229 admissions in France.

<i>The Valet</i> 2006 film by Francis Veber

The Valet is a 2006 comedy film written and directed by Francis Veber and starring Gad Elmaleh, Alice Taglioni, Daniel Auteuil and Kristin Scott Thomas. The film is about a parking valet who is enlisted to pretend to be the lover of a famous fashion model in order to deflect attention from her relationship with a married businessman. The film enjoyed box office success in France and the United States.

<i>Lemmerdeur</i> 1973 film

L'emmerdeur is a 1973 French-Italian black comedy film starring Jacques Brel, appearing in his tenth and final feature film. Directed by Édouard Molinaro and co-starring Lino Ventura, Caroline Cellier, and Jean-Pierre Darras, L'emmerdeur is an adaptation of Francis Veber's 1971 play Le contrat.

<i>Les Fugitifs</i> 1986 French film

Les Fugitifs is a French 1986 comedy film, directed by Francis Veber. It was remade in 1989 as Three Fugitives, also directed by Veber.

French comedy films are comedy films produced in France. Comedy is the most popular French genre in cinema.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Armelle Deutsch</span> French actress

Armelle Deutsch is a French actress. Armelle was born in the Bouches-du-Rhône.

<i>Maigret</i> (2022 film) 2022 film directed by Patrice Leconte

Maigret is a 2022 French-Belgian crime drama film directed by Patrice Leconte. It is an adaptation of the novel Maigret et la jeune morte by Georges Simenon, published in 1954 and featuring the police detective Jules Maigret. The novel was previously adapted as a television film in 1973 with Jean Richard in the role of Maigret. The film was first released in France on 23 February 2022.


  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