How entertaining? ★★★☆☆
Thought provoking? ★★★☆☆
12 June 2011
This a movie review of POTICHE.
Francois Ozon is a modern directing legend. Prolific and erudite. He’s at home with murder mysteries (Swimming Pool), musicals (8 Women), death (Time to Leave) and marriage (5X2), to name a few. Ozon writes believable and three-dimensional characters, and peoples his films well; even with stunt casting. He is especially good with female protagonists. Potiche is no exception, and wears its feminism on its sleeve.
France 1977, and the fight for gender equality is in full swing. Suzanne (movie royalty Catherine Deneuve) is described by her daughter, Joelle, as a “potiche”, a trophy wife. She is told by her husband Robert (Fabrice Luchini) that his opinions are hers, and that she shouldn’t even be making his breakfast (no wife of his should). She spends the day writing poetry and leading a life of ease. Robert on the other hand is a philanderer and draconian boss; and thus Ozon deftly weaves in class conflict and worker rights. We are looking at exploitation and second class citizenship. Suzanne’s son Laurent (Jeremie Renier) is perhaps gay, and not admitting it to his family. All these ideas don’t feel forced, or worthy, in fact there is a frothy charm to proceedings. Surroundings and mannerisms seem intentionally kitsch.
Suzanne’s hubby falls ill, and she is forced to take over as the head of the factory; a catalyst that disrupts the superficial esprit de corps. Potiche is also a dissection of individual hypocrisy and self-delusion. Robert, Joelle and Gerard Depardieu’s politician are slowly revealed – projecting their own small-mindedness and hang-ups; while also being very human and likeable. This maybe sounds downbeat, but is the opposite.