Film Review: Potiche

If you appreciate the sometimes zany, tongue-in-cheek humor of filmmakers like John Waters and Pedro Almodóvar then French film Potiche might be for you. (Although don’t expect quite the level of wonderful vulgarities and raunchiness.) Set in 1977 France, Suzanne Pujol (played by Catherine Deneuve) is a rich trophy wife who turns a blind eye to her husband’s infidelity and instead spends her days jogging and writing poems. Her husband, Robert (Fabrice Luchini), runs the umbrella factory that Suzanne’s father gave him as part of her dowry with an iron fist. But times, they are a changin’! The workers at the factory aren’t happy with their working conditions and neither, it turns out, is Suzanne, who has been ignored, neglected, unappreciated and borderline verbally abused by her husband for three decades.

After her husband is forced to take a health sabbatical following a heart attack, Suzanne takes over. The result is a return to the factory’s former glory during Suzanne’s father’s reign. She appoints her artsy son to the design department and her modern but still conservative daughter gets a job, too. The local mayor and member of parliament — who happens to be a communist — Maurice Babin (Gérard Depardieu), helps to get things in motion for Suzanne, in more ways that one as it turns out the two once had a romance. Once his sabbatical is over, however, Robert is ready to get his wife out of the factory and back into their mansion. But this trophy wife has some secrets of her own that no one expected of the always perfectly coiffed woman.

Potiche plays to the 70s in a big way in a big, cartoon-y way. While it starts off a little goofy, once the film gets going, it really gets going. And while predictability is part of what makes this comedy work, there are a few curve balls that will keep you guessing and keep your attention. It’s not a laugh out loud comedy but Potiche is a wonderfully performed film that an effortless watch.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a couple song and dance numbers? Yeah. Go see it.

Corinne

In a previous life, Corinne ran a music website. After going strong for a decade, the site went on a hiatus. Consider her the antiTastemaker.