POTICHE

2/05/2013.

A joint screening and social event with ADTTS (Abingdon and District Twin Towns Society).

Barbed comedy in which Catherine Deneuve takes over the family umbrella factory and Gerard Depardieu plays a union leader. (Cert 15) Dir: Francois Ozon, 99 mins, France 2010.

” … It’s a sweet comedy, knowing about human nature, and Deneuve and Depardieu, who bring so much history to the screen, seem to create it by their very natures” – Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun Times)

” Catherine Deneuve is on magnificent form – singing and dancing! – in François Ozon’s comedy of female emancipation in the 1970s. … while Gérard Depardieu as an old flame of Suzanne’s brings ballast to the flyaway confection” – Anthony Quinn (The Independent)

This is showing at our usual venue, the RESOURCE AND WELLBEING CENTRE, Crabtree Close, Audlett Drive, Abingdon OX14 3GD.

  • Doors open at 7.00
  • pre-film glass of wine and nibbles at 7.15
  • film at approximately 7.45
  • cheese and wine at 9.30
  • Please bring your own wine!

Please note: admission includes film, food and soft drinks, but not alcoholic drinks. Please bring your own wine!

Admission (ADTTS & ABCD members, and members’ guests): £6.50

You don’t need to book, but it would help us to know in advance if you plan to attend – email: info@abfilms.org.uk.

Programme Notes

Joint Presentation with Abingdon and District Twin Towns Society

Potiche
France 2010 99mins Cert 15

What is it with François Ozon and the sexual awakening of middle-aged women? Perhaps there’s something he’s not telling us but at any rate, what Potiche does, it does very well indeed. (In case you’re not familiar with the term, it means something akin to ‘trophy wife’.) Catherine Deneuve is the potiche of the title, married to Robert (Fabrice Luchini), who is superficially attentive but in reality utterly self-centered. He forgets her birthday. He’s shagging his secretary. His every waking moment revolves around an obsession with work. She takes it all in her stride, resolutely optimistic, until one day escalating tensions at his umbrella factory lead Robert’s health to take a turn for the worse. Thrust into the role of temporary factory manager, she discovers strengths and desires she didn’t know she had.

So far, so formulaic – a trait, of course, that is as vital to the success of farce, as is exemplary acting (Ozon has never had any difficulty attracting high quality stars). This is a film which plays such skillful and affectionate tribute to the French tradition of high comedy that you would be forgiven for thinking you’ve seen it all before – but it’s the 1970s and the women’s movement is just developing real force.

Is this Ozon’s more luridly-coloured version of Made In Dagenham? Not quite. Because just when we think we know where it’s going, with our heroine growing gradually closer to her old flame, union activist Maurice (Gerard Depardieu), it takes a quite unexpected turn, revealing depths to its characters that we didn’t know they had. Perhaps Robert is not the only one who has been keeping secrets. Perhaps there has always been more to this diligently respectable housewife than meets the eye.

With these game-changing moves, Ozon uses the building blocks of the comic tradition to tell a much more empowering tale that plays genuine tribute to a rounded female character as well as elevating those who would usually be treated as an afterthought (such as the secretary, beautifully played by Karin Viard). Nobody escapes the more vicious aspects of his satire and there are some truly withering lines, as well as many acutely observed casual cruelties, but alongside this there is at least a little bit of sympathy for all involved, even the tyrannical Robert.

It’s all brought to life with a wonderful lightness of touch, culminating in a musical number that brings a touch of surreality to all that has gone before. To what extent have the various actions we have seen really been about performance, about displays for the sake of others? This meta-textual element reveals the film’s intellectual complexity, though one could just as easily enjoy it as simple comedy and miss that entirely.

A superb example of Ozon’s comic craft, showcasing some of France’s greatest actors in their prime, Potiche is a real treat and deserves to be seen widely.
Acknowledgements: Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

Suzanne Pujol – Catherine Deneuve
Robert Pujol – Fabrice Luchini
Maurice Babin – Gérard Depardieu
Nadege Dumoulin – Karin Viard
Joëlle Pujol de la Morette – Judith Godrèche

Director – François Ozon
Screenplay – François Ozon
Cinematography – Yorick le Saux
Original Music – Philippe Rombi
Producers – Eric and Nicolas Altmayer

Comments

“Brilliant! Pas potiche, peut-être pastiche?”

“Most enjoyable! Please let’s have more films that are good but not too complex, so that you have to see them again or that need an explanation or debate – just a good evening out.”

“Very enjoyable a lot of wry, dry dialogue which was funny!”

“No surprises but very funny and very French!”

“Good fun – very French!”

“Clever ambiguity in the approving use of – and gentle mockery of – the genre. But what genre? American woman’s film (à la Douglas Sirk)? A good film, in any case.”

“Good interactions and development of characters”

“What a warm performance from La Deneuve!”

“The opening may have been lengthy and the ending borderline face-palm territory but this film was a populist French fable with a good dose of false nostalgia thrown in for good measure.”

“Very stagy – obviously based on a play.”

“Pleasant enough”

“Pleasant but rather predictable”

“The Belgian Federation of Old Vehicles obviously helped a lot – an Innocenti Mini, a Peugeot
504, a Renault 16 …”

“As usual, the film’s just started, and we are out of soft drinks already and there’s no diet Coke :(”

Scores

A:20, B:15, C:1, D:1, E:0 to give 86%