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WHERE NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED.

Byline: Glenn Whipp Film Critic

PIERRE SALVADORI'S ``Apres Vous'' is about a Good Samaritan who starts the movie helping everyone but himself (and, by extension, his long-suffering girlfriend) and, following a wild series of predicaments, reaches a point where he faces a lifetime of unhappiness unless he sells somebody out.

Reaching that point is good fun, particularly given that the film features two of France's most gifted actors, Daniel Auteuil and Jose Garcia. In fact, at its heart, ``Apres Vous'' is a showcase piece, putting Auteuil and Garcia in a succession of bizarre circumstances and letting them entertain us through the pleasure of their sheer discomfort.

Auteuil plays Antoine, a maitre d' at an upscale Paris brasserie. It's quickly established that Antoine goes out of his way to lend a hand to anyone in need, which more or less keeps him at the restaurant night and day and away from his girlfriend, Christine (Marilyn Canto). (This says as much about Antoine's feelings for Christine as it does to his commitment to kindness.)

Running late (as usual) for a date with Christine, Antoine cuts through a park and finds a man about to hang himself. Ever helpful, Antoine intercedes. The stranger, Louis (the Spanish-born Garcia), is not grateful, leading Antoine to try to make it up to him - again and again and again.

This, of course, leads to more problems with Christine. It also leads Antoine to the root of Louis' unhappiness, his former flame, Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain), who left him and set the whole suicide mission in motion. Finding this lovely woman only complicates matters, setting up a parade of crises that are ultimately resolved in something of a pat matter.

If ``Apres Vous'' doesn't quite make good on its initial originality or even take its premise to its logical conclusion (which is that Good Samaritans often find themselves shoved into a ditch somewhere), the movie has more than enough moments of satisfying silliness to overcome the stretches that strain. And tucked away in the pratfalls, there's a small message about nobility and kindness.

Mind you, Salvadori isn't going for anything deep here. You can tell that from the opening credits sequence, a bouncy cartoon featuring a well- meaning penguin doing back flips. That's Antoine in a nutshell - eager to please, willing to fall. Pride in the name of love.

Glenn Whipp, (818) 713-3672

glenn.whipp(at)dailynews.com

APRES VOUS - Three stars

(R: language)

Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Jose Garcia.

Director: Pierre Salvadori.

Running time: 1 hr. 50 min.

Playing: Laemmle's Royal in West Los Angeles. Expanding to Encino and Pasadena on June 10.

In a nutshell: Satisfying farce about a Good Samaritan realizing the limitations of being helpful. In French with English subtitles.

CAPTION(S):

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Photo:

Daniel Auteuil, left, and Jose Garcia star in ``Apres Vous.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 3, 2005
Words:468
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