Potiche [Trophy Wife] (2010)

[Viennale.]

Potiche is the newest film by François Ozon, based on a play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy and starring Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, Fabrice Luchini and Jérémie Renier.

Plot:
1977: Suzanne (Catherine Deneuve) is practically the definition of a trophy wife. Married to Robert (Fabrice Luchini), who owns an umbrella factory, she spends her days with the household, writing bad poetry and getting visits from her grown kids. But when the workers at the umbrella factory start striking, it’s Suzanne who has to step in for her choleric husband.

Potiche is an entertaining film with a good cast. Its feminist message is watered down quite a bit to make more room for comedy, but it nicely captured the feminist current of the time. Most of all, it’s light-hearted.

Catherine Deneuve was wonderful. A lot of the jokes depended on her and she pulled them off with ease. You never noticed that she was making them – you just found yourself laughing. Generally, a lot of the humor in the film was sly like that. Admirable. [Though it was also nicely silly at times.]

But also the rest of the cast, most of all Gérard Depardieu and Karin Viard, were great – and perfectly chosen for their roles.

The story itself had some surprises, especially when it departs from the usual RomCom tropes (and it does so with joy). That Suzanne doesn’t end up with Maurice (and the whole thing with her son), for example, really surprised me in a very good way.

The film is not a serious examination of feminism in the 70s/early 80s, but it does show some of the thinking at the time very nicely. It also shows how feminism has evolved in the meantime and how the views from the time seem a little quaint now.

Summarising: Nothing too deep, but fun.

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