It’s been said that the French loved and appreciated the late American comedic actor Jerry Lewis, possibly even more than his own fellow citizens did.
Out French actor and filmmaker Nicolas Maury is a performer in the Lewis tradition, a kind of goofy tragic clown. You know this if you’ve seen Maury in movies such as “Let My People Go!,” “You and the Night,” and “Knife + Heart.”
For his feature-length debut film “My Best Part” (Altered Innocence), Maury (who also co-wrote the screenplay) plays Jérémie, a gay man consumed with jealousy. He’s a struggling actor in Paris whose time would be better spent concentrating on his flagging career, instead of obsessing over whether his hot veterinarian boyfriend Albert (out actor Arnaud Valois) is cheating on him with his intern Gianfranco (Andrea Romano).
Nothing Jérémie does, including attending a “Jealousy Anonymous” meeting helps. He can’t stop himself from doing inappropriate things, such as installing a spycam in Albert’s apartment. He stalks Albert and bursts into the operating room at the animal hospital while Albert is performing surgery. Later, Albert asks Jérémie if he’s “sick of suffering” from jealousy, saying Jérémie’s “passion touches and overwhelms” him. He insists that Jérémie get help, or the relationship is over.
Adding insult to injury, Jérémie is on the way to the countryside, where his divorced mother Annette (award-winning actress Nathalie Baye, who has also starred in numerous queer films including “Laurence Always”) runs an inn. He’s there to attend the memorial service for his father who committed suicide. This particular sequence turns out to be one of the funniest in the movie as we meet his senile grandmother Yvette (Florence Girogetti), as well as some of the other guests at the inn.
It's here that we also meet gorgeous Kevin (Théo Christine), a straight stud who assists Annette on the property. At first, Jérémie is jealous of Kevin, but after a series of interactions (including one involving a late-night swim followed by a chat, and one about a failed suicide attempt), he changes his opinion of him. All the while, Jérémie is also preparing for a career-making audition as Moritz in the production of “Spring Awakening.”
While at the inn, Jérémie and Annette have a combination of humorous and serious mother/son conversations. It’s obvious that they have a complex relationship. She calls him “napkin,” a childhood nickname that is alternately affectionate and insulting. When Annette realizes it’s time for her son to return home to Paris, she buys him a Husky puppy (he names it Gugus) and sends him on his way.
The puppy is like the famous gun in the first act. It’s the instrument that briefly reunites Jérémie and Albert (when Gugus becomes ill) in the last act, and officially brings closure to the relationship (as it turns out, Jérémie was right to be suspicious of Albert).
Even with all the trauma in his life, Jérémie gives the best audition of his career and is cast in the play. When Kevin surprises Jérémie at the theater after his first performance, it’s apparent that a sea change has occurred, and an air of love and hope fills the screen. In other words, “My Best Part” ends with the kind of wish fulfillment that only occurs when you write, direct and star in a movie.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of seven books including the expanded edition of his short story collection How to Whistle (Rattling Good Yarns Press, 2021). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.