“Look at this beautiful potato’ says Bernadette Meyer (Nathalie Baye) in Nicolas Maury’s sharp French drama; there’s more than just vegetable appreciation going on here, with Maury writing, directing and starring in a moody, observant film that runs the risk of preciousness, but makes something unique of an actor’s struggle. My Best Part is a sophisticated and intelligent film about a young man’s decline in the face of an uncaring world; if you can handle the premise, the rewards are genuine.
Jérémie Meyer (Call My Agent!’s Maury) has just been passed over for a film role; his boyfriend also thrown him out of his apartment when Meyer accuses him of infidelity. For an actor, the next course is retreat; Meyer returns to his mother Bernadette, who calls him her little ‘napkin’ and at least has a handle on her son’s depression. A suicide attempt only creates more attention, but fortunately some nuns rescue him from his own worst impulses; they see ‘the capricious child clinging on’ that holds Meyer back. . But can Jérémie Meyer forget his vet lover and find his own path to true happiness?
‘I am a sorcerer, I can read ponds,’ says Meyer, but the truth is more mundane; he even objects to his boyfriend’s use of the word scram, rather than understanding why the term might be pressed into service. Mayer is something of a sad-sack in hideous knitwear, but there’s genuine providence in his fall, and a redemption of sorts in a dog that inadvertently teaches the young man a few lessons in caring, as well as a route back to his lover. This is a difficult role to get right, but as writer and director, Maury manages to deal himself a pretty good part as someone in denial about his own failures, and one who initially refuses to change due to his adherence to his own lies.
An early scene sees Meyer talk about a trip to the cinema as a ‘cleansing ‘ experience, and that’s pretty much what My Best Part does; by shining a light on his protagonist’s worst impulses, Maury’s film sparks empathy and uncomfortable recognition. My Best Part may be too grounded and sensible for general audiences, but it’s a plugged-in and vibrant film; the main character may be weak, but the way that his story unfolds is moving and deliberately problematic. And Baye gives the film a great foil, a concerned mother who finds herself adrift from her son’s intense, impractical, deeply personal needs.
My Best Part will open for weeklong runs at the Quad Cinema in New York and at Los Angeles’ Laemmle Glendale on February 25. The film will be available on VOD nationwide the same da. Thanks for advance access to this title.