Thursday, April 7, 2011


The year is 1977--the country is France--and women are still very much thought of: mainly as objects, home makers, and of course with a very limited capacity to use their brains.   Catherine Deneuve plays a restless trophy wife in her new movie: Potiche (trophy wife).  But her role as Madame Pujol, a docile housewife is abruptly interrupted by what else: a protest by the workers of the umbrella company run by her husband, Monsieur Pujol (played by Fabrice Luchini), and his reactionary heart attack.  The communist deputy, Maurice Babin (played by Gérard Depardieu) suggests that Madame Pujol take over the Pujol empire until her husband recovers.  Hilarity ensues. 
Director Françoise Ozon, who also directed 8 Femmes (8 Women [2004], which stars Catherine Deneuve as well), and Swimming Pool (2003) is known for using satire--threaded across his films to illuminate the moral of his stories.  Potiche does not stray away from this very method: Through the film, Ozon is able to state women's conditions quite clearly--how they were incredibly oppressed  during the 1970's, and how they were mostly thought of as a joke in the work force--by employing sagacious humor.  The characters are all positioned to showcase a caricature of themselves--which becomes more prevalent as the film develops the deeper side of each individual--adding to the richness of the film and thereby making it more compelling. 

The movie is based on a play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédys.  And according to Catherine Deneuve (in a recent interview with Charlie Rose), Ozon had been wanting to do this film with her as the protagonist, for quite some time; but it wasn't until Marie-Ségolène Royal ran against Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency in 2007, when the new "New Wave" director finally said, "I have to do this movie now!"  Apparently, Suzzane Pujol's character development is extensively based on Ségolène Royal's presidential campaign.  

Potiche is witty, surprising--it evokes the feeling of traveling back in time with the characters; the cinematography is right on point, and it definitely doesn't offer up your typical French ending.  Catherine Deneuve's performance is elegant, subtly brilliant, and highly poised.  So if you're in the mood for a good comedy--with a twist of feminism--or if you just have a thing for Catherine Deneuve: we highly recommend this movie.  The film came out in the fall of last year in Europe, and is now currently playing at the Angelika in New York.  For other locations, please check your local listings. 

Bookmark and Share
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...