Film & TV

Film Review: Potiche

Running time: 103 minutes

Rating: tba

Release: As part of French Film Festival 2011. For wider release on 21 April 2011.

Language: French with English subtitles

Potiche is a French farce; set in the 1970’s featuring the wonderful Catherine Deneuve as trophy wife Suzanne Pujol. When her cheating husband Robert (Fabrice Luchini)has a breakdown following being held hostage by his umbrella factory employees, Suzanne takes control of the family business. She enlists the help of her two children capitalist Joelle, (Judith Godreche) and leftist artist, Laurent (Jeremie Renier) who inhabit opposite spectrums of the political sphere. To complicate matters she also has to negotiate with former lover and politician Maurice Babin (Gerard Depardieu).

Director Francois Ozen (Eight Women) also wrote the screenplay based on the play of the same name by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy. The film is set in 1970’s which mirrors a turbulent time of class divide and female emancipation. If you didn’t know better you would think this film was actually made in the 70’s with authentic replication of fashion, hairstyles, cars and film quality and colour. Judith Godreche is channelling Farrah Fawcett with her hairstyle and Jeremie Renier looks like he belongs on the set of Starsky and Hutch.

It is a light fluffy romp which just seems a bit too silly and over the top as Deneuve goes from chatting to squirrels in the park to negotiating with union powerbrokers and then politics. Then just when you had thought you had seen the full range of her amazing abilities we discover she was a nymphomaniac in her youth and she isn’t bad with the microphone as she breaks into song after winning the election. However no matter how silly it was entertaining to watch Deneuve go tete a tete with Gerard Depardieu and this is the only worthwhile reason to watch this film. Both are great actors who manage to rise above the stupidity and still come out smelling like roses. The supporting cast manage to do a reasonable job given the mediocre dialogue.

2.5 /5 stars

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