Set in 1977 in a provincial French town, POTICHE is a free adaptation of the 1970s eponymous hit comic play. Catherine Deneuve is Suzanne Pujol, a submissive, housebound 'trophy housewife' (or "potiche,") who steps in to manage the umbrella factory run by her wealthy and tyrannical husband (Fabrice Luchini) after the workers go on strike and take him hostage. To everyone's surprise, Suzanne proves herself a competent and assertive woman of action. But when her husband returns from a restful cruise in top form, things get complicated. Gérard Depardieu plays a former union leader and Suzanne's ex-beau who still holds a flame for her. Acclaimed writer-director Francois Ozon ("Swimming Pool," "Under the Sand," "Time to Leave,") who had previously directed Ms. Deneuve in the international hit "8 Women," twists the original play on its head to create his own satirical and hilarious take on the war between the sexes and classes. POTICHE reunites French cinema legends Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu in an ensemble cast that includes comic greats Fabrice Luchini and Karin Viard (as Luchini's secretary and mistress,) while Judith Godreche and Jérémie Renier play the Pujols' entitled daughter and sexually ambiguous son. The impeccable 1970s era set design and costumes, were created by Katia Wyzkop and Pascaline Chavanne, respectively. -- (C) Music Box Films … More
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Critic Reviews for Potiche
It's as light and soft as a pink satin pillow, and a little overstretched, but it's also packed with bawdy zingers and pointed political barbs.
"Potiche" is a frothy French confection, a sort of île flottante of movies.
The film is still worth watching, and the one fabulous reason why can be summed up in two celebrated words: Catherine Deneuve.
It's a cheeky female revenge fantasy that plays out even in the casting.
Potiche is a French sex farce with a time warp feminist message that's more odd than entertaining or enlightening.
Even though we don't really care about the dialogue or script at times, it's easy--and fun!--to be distracted by the pretty pictures.
Deneuve's performance and the artistic design make this film work, despite shortcomings in humor and plotting.
Catherine Deneuve continues her run as world cinema's most gracefully aging actress.
...a failed farce that seems unlikely to please even Ozon's most ardent fans...
...rose-tinted, sun-dappled flashbacks and clever use of split-screens and slow-zoom dramatic reveals add to the fromage and homage factor to '70s TV.
Some of the scenes are a bit stilted whenever the film betrays its theatrical roots. And the wordy script means you'll be reading a lot of subtitles if your ears can't keep up with the dialogue.
Ozon ... attacks his material with huge zest, playing up kitsch elements but never losing sight of more serious points.
A blend of boulevard farce, 1970s sex comedy and political satire. Deneuve responds to the challenge magnificently and with a glint of mischief.
A hugely enjoyable French farce with a witty script and terrific performances from Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu.
Deneuve's combination of dignity and a determined ordinariness is just right, while Depardieu's lovelorn political beast is equally watchable.
Catherine Deneuve is on magnificent form -- singing and dancing! -- in François Ozon's comedy of female emancipation in the 1970s.
Told with sly humour and eye-catching period detail, Potiche offers frothy fun underpinned by some astute observations about the dawn of feminism and the seismic changes in French society at this period.
Ozon's film has its winking way with Deneuve, and she winks right back at it: she's funny, loose and charming, but also aptly exasperated, and there's room for a strain of melancholy .
It is a period pastiche executed with brilliant attention to detail and a weird, suppressed passion, like a sitcom in a bad dream.
A warm-hearted story of a woman's rise in a man's world belies a biting satire.
Ozon recalls the mild farce and mannered drawing-room comedy of an earlier era of French cinema.
The film is a proscenium confection that has somehow wandered into a projection beam: minor, but nice if you're in the mood.
Audience Reviews for Potiche
French performers Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu are two household names in their native France but also familiar with English speaking filmgoers. Basically, they've been around and have delivered an incalculable amount of great performances throughout their careers. This is a film that brings them both together (although not for the first time) and serves as a reminder of how skilful and commanding they are on screen.
Suzanne Pujol (Catherine Denueve) is a "Potiche" - a decorative, trophy wife - who runs a household, while her husband Robert (Fabrice Luchini) runs the family umbrella factory and philanders with his secretary. A workers strike breaks out which leads to Robert having a heart attack and while he recuperates, Suzanne reluctantly takes control of the family business with her two adult children. However, Suzanne is more shrewd and clever than given credit for and she manages to regain the trust of the workers and turn the fortunes of the business around while steadily gaining respect from numerous corners of society including Maurice Babin (Gerard Depardieu), the influential Mayor.
It takes a little time to work up to "Potiche" as it's very dialogue driven. So much so, that it's quite difficult to keep up with the subtitles and it's constant stream of verbal exchanges. However, it's confidently handled and when it does get going it throws in many facets of an individuals life and the complexities and challenges that life throws at us all.
Where it's strengths lie is in it's perfectly pitched commentary on the struggle that women faced throughout the 1970's in order to achieve the same equality as men. Denueve's Suzanne Pujol is the perfect embodiment of a woman hanging up her apron and reclaiming her respect and dignity. It also shows a balance between the strength and vulnerability involved in such a time; on the surface, Suzanne is seen as weak yet she grows in confidence and even considers divorcing her husband. Meanwhile, her daughter JoÃ«lle (Judith GodrÃ¨che) is seen as strong and independent yet ultimately can't bear to be alone. One of the few decent male figures is Suzanne's son, Laurent (JÃ©rÃ©mie RÃ©nier). He's a prominent supporting character and even though he's male and serves as his mothers rock, he seems to carry a certain femininity. This is one of the many clever little devices that provide this film with an astute commentary of the politics and the cognitive shift between the sexes during the 1970's.
The only issue I had was the pacing; despite the wonderful story, quirky humour and solid performances, it fails to completely hold your attention. This is a small gripe but still one that I couldn't ignore. If it delivered itself with a bit more urgency, then this would have been top class.
A subtly handled little dramatic comedy that manages to incorporate many facets of life and has a sumptuous rendering of the 70's era. It could have been tighter but it's still a lot of fun.
Even if there is nothing really special in this light comedy, this is still a very pleasant and funny film thanks to Deneuve and Depardieu, who both shine together (as usual) in an amusing story.More
A really charming and colourful comedy which shows that a 67-year-old Catherine Deneuve has lost none of her star power.More
A trophy wife proves unexpectedly competent when she takes over her husband's umbrella factory while he recuperates from a heart attack. Well made, in a film style appropriate to the late 1970s setting, but it's so lightweight, fluffy and nostalgic that you wonder if there was any point to it all beyond keeping Catherine Deneuve busy.More
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