“Make no mistake: The Closet is silly, silly, silly…”
Once a year, all over America, thousands of otherwise “ordinary” men and women dress up in flamboyant clothing of the opposite gender, consume excessive amounts of drugs, flout the values of civilized society, and conduct themselves in intentionally shocking, offensive and totally self-indulgent behavior. All of this occurs in the name of gay “pride,” which is baffling as there is nothing about this conduct to be particularly proud of; it’s as if this tiny (but highly visible) percentage of gays decide to adopt, for a day, the demeanor expected of them by heterosexuals.
What does this have to do with The Closet? Nothing, really, but I sure feel better getting it off my chest. Come to think of it, The Closet does feature a gay pride parade, and in that parade, a man presumed to be gay is forced by his heterosexual employers to behave in a manner they deem suitably “gay”. Hmmmm…
But The Closet is hardly a political movie; it’s an uproarious French farce about the ever-changing landscape of sexual politics.
Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil) is a dull, personality-less bore. After learning he’s about to be laid off at work (at a condom factory!?!), his neighbor offers a plan to save his job: If word were to get out that the straight Pignon was in fact gay, his employers might not fire him, fearing sexual-discrimination charges. So, Pignon’s boss receives an anonymous envelope containing doctored photos of Pignon in a gay bar. Bare-assed in leather chaps, of course.
Rumors fly. Suddenly, co-workers are intrigued by this seemingly “ordinary” man and his apparent double life. While Pignon doesn’t change at all – nary a lisp or limp-wristed mannerism – those around him do as they react to his “homosexuality.” And while the ploy does save his job, it causes unexpected troubles with his attractive boss, the company president, some gay-bashing factory workers, his ex-wife, his son, and best of all, a brutish homophobe with his own issues (a magnificently buffoonish Gérard Depardieu). As the charade continues, Pignon finds it difficult to keep his heterosexuality in the closet. Sound preposterous? Well, it is, but that’s okay – it’s a farce, remember?
It’s a safe bet that every gay man has, at one time or another, hidden his sexuality from his peers in order to gain acceptance. What would it be like if the loafer were on the other foot, and straights had to hide their sexuality? Undoubtedly nowhere nearly as amusing and enjoyable as what’s inside The Closet.