x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

ADFF film review: Potiche

An enjoyable romp with a dissapointing addendum.


Director: François Ozon 

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Fabrice Luchini and Gérard Depardieu

François Ozon is an unpredictable director. He makes a film nearly every year and it's always hard to guess whether he'll be making a thriller, comedy or a tearjerker. Potiche sees the director making a comedy romp in the tone of his most famous film 8 Women

Like that film, this one relies on the audience knowing quite a bit about French cinema and the careers of the actors in question, as it plays on their images to create laughs. This is an adaptation of a play written by Barillet and Gredy in the 1970s and the film's brand of feminist politics does seem a touch behind the times. It's 1977 and Deneuve plays Suzanne, the seemingly docile wife of Robert (Luchini playing arrogant again) - a right wing, chauvinistic owner and director of an umbrella factory. He makes all the decisions in the house and treats his wife with disdain. 

Robert is taken hostage by his employees and is saved by Suzanne, and her former boyfriend, unionist Babin (Depardieu). Suzanne then takes charge of the factory and her feminist policies delight the workers so much that Robert's return is greeted with indifference. The film is enjoyable but it all starts to go wrong when Ozon puts his own twist on the play by adding a new act, which sees Deneuve run for office. The addendum ultimately makes Potiche too pastiche.