The Film: Après Vous – France
I first watched this film a few years ago on a DVD sent by Netflix. It really was the genesis of my reentry into foreign film not only because it was so enjoyable but I now had a new source for foreign film as I had already burned through the vast majority of films in my local video store.
This film is such a pallet cleanser from the stale one-note comedies that have been in theaters lately. Nothing beats Daniel Auteuil. His comedic acting is so genius that it adds an additional layer of humor to the dark comedy. It’s not suprising he won a Étoile d’Or in the Best Actor category. Over the years I’ve watched a lot of his films and there’s something about his performance here, especially revisiting it all this time later, that really shines.
If you want to learn about the rhythm of comedy this is a film to watch. The timing is impeccable. Right from the opening scene as Antoine, the head waiter, tries to make it out the door to meet his girlfriend the joke begins, escalates, pays off, then the title card. I was smiling already.
If it were any other writer or director, if it were from any other country, the concept of the comedy would be told with a completely different pace. But Après Vous reminds me of Francis Veber’s sense of comedy — it’s not all setup and little payoff. It’s more tell the joke, get them laughing, then elaborate. This translates into the idea of the film appearing immediately after the title card. In another film I would be worried, where do they go from here? But the French know how to work with irony, twisting until it’s hilariously uncomfortable.
Even though this film was the opening of the foreign film floodgates, I remember being unsure if I liked it the first time I watched it. I think that twisting sense of irony is why I was conflicted. Now, I see it’s what makes this film unique. My mom, who watched it with me those years ago, and I still reference the movie in our film conversations along with other fantastic Daniel Auteuil films.
José Garcia is no schlub either as the heartbroken man who tries to take his own life. The wonderful Sandrine Kiberlain has graced my advent films before as a teacher in Le petit Nicolas [Little Nicholas] and director Pierre Salvadori clearly knows this genre. He has graced advent before with another dark comedy, Hors de prix [Priceless].
Dark comedy generally implies something grim there is a spark of life in Après Vous that makes this film fun to watch.
The Food: French Onion Popcorn
I wouldn’t recommend it for date night, but you can scale the onion taste it to your pallet. If you’re feeling adventurous, or you just don’t have them in your cupboard, you can use this recipe to make your own fried onions like I did.
- 1/4 cup corn kernels
- 1/2 cup Fried onions
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp herbes de Provence
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Prepare the popcorn with your favorite method and remove the unpopped kernels. Put the popcorn in a mixing bowl. Melt the butter in a pan on low and add the garlic, onion, and herbes. Crush or chop the fried onions and add it to the popcorn. Slowly pour the butter over the popcorn mixture, tossing to coat. If you’re looking for more onion flavor, sprinkle some onion flakes on the buttered popcorn.
I also suggest some cheese flavor on top such as the cheese crisps from yesterday’s recipe or even white cheese powder.
There is another option for those who dare. Add a portion of a beef bullion cube or french onion soup powder to the melted butter mixture and let the flavor bloom before pouring over popcorn and voilà!