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Potiche 

An enjoyable French comedy about changing power dynamics

François Ozon's light-hearted-cum-serious-minded Potiche is the story of an idle-rich housewife who ably steps in at her draconian husband's umbrella company when he collapses in the face of demands from striking workers. It's 1977, and when we meet Suzanne (Catherine Deneuve), she's jogging badly in red designer sweats, making notes on her trivial day of chatting with a dove, a squirrel and two humping bunnies (she coos mischievously at them). Clearly, there's nothing upstairs -- until she proves that there is. Suzanne turns out to be so competent that it's hard to believe anyone would think she isn't. That's the bitter joke at the center of Ozon's sugar-coated feminism. In 1967, in Belle de Jour, Deneuve famously played a bored housewife who proved her worth as a fetishist hooker (times have clearly changed), and the umbrella factory winks at another Deneuve classic. The crisp colors and tinkling music of Potiche (French slang for "trophy wife") mock '70s styles, and in Suzanne's "creative" son, there's even a hint of the next big revolution. Potiche is enjoyable, and it's right about how change transpires, although perhaps a bit too contrived. It's also a love song to Deneuve, and it's great to watch her work with a tranquil and confident Gerard Depardieu as the mayor with whom Suzanne had a randy poke in the woods decades earlier. In French, with subtitles. Starts Fri., April 15. Regent Square

click to enlarge Surprisingly suited for success: Catherine Deneuve
  • Surprisingly suited for success: Catherine Deneuve

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