Suzanne (Deneuve) is a "Potiche"; a beautiful, subservient wife dedicated to serving the selfish whims of her tyrannical husband. But after the exploited workers of his umbrella factory decide to strike, Suzanne takes on the role as head of the company to great success. Although business and personal politics are about to collide with the arrival of Maurice (Depardieu), a charming union leader and a former lover of Suzanne's.
The opening sequence tells you just how much this film is going to satirise the two decades it is set in. The casting was excellent, and the times were well portrayed, remembering this is France, not the UK.
Some enjoyable moments, and some serious points about women in the workplace.
It was nearly good, and I enjoyed it, but it would have benefited with thinning out a bit - as could Gerald Depardieu!
This film is not only set in the 60's/70's but is as mundane and dull as many of those films were. Maybe it is the difference between what a French person calls comedy and what a Brit does, but for me this didn't live up to its hype.
Potiche is a French-Belgian comedy film about a submissive wife who finds herself in charge of her patriarchal husband’s factory. Loosely translated “potiche” means “a delicate vase” but also acts as a colloquialism for “trophy wife”.
The movie is set in the late seventies and stars the famous French actor Gerad Depardieu and classic French star Catherine Deneuve and you may recognise it from the irritating mobile phone adverts that have been airing in cinemas for the last six months.
The movie is a hilarious 1970’s pastiche which Deneuve plays to brilliantly; the movie details her marriage and the sudden change in her life when she is called upon to run her husbands umbrella factory (which for fans of Deneuve’s older films is a clear reference to her appearance in the 1960’s movie Umbrella’s of Cherbourg). Despite her character’s somewhat controlled life and some of the serious points highlighted in the film, Deneuve plays the part with a knowing, tongue-in-cheek attitude, without which the overdramatic camp nature of the film would be unbearable. Thanks to Denueve you spend the film laughing with the characters rather than at them.
Every performance in the piece is excellent, from Depardieu’s rather tender performance as Denueve’s ex-lover to the mousey Barbara Windsor-esque factory secretary, who is having an affair with her boss. The whole cast team up to play up to the bad-seventies-movie vibe of the piece, and do so with a simultaneous air of self respect and a sly knowing wink at the audience.
The detail poured in the camp 70’s atmosphere of the movie is reminiscent of the classic British Carry On films, everything from the set design (the décor in their home is unspeakably kitsch) to the script has that trade-mark under budget general “naff-ness” about it. But the film’s director, Frenchman François Ozon takes it all with a pinch of salt and turns the piece into a brilliantly funny satire.