Directed by François Ozon
Starring Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu & Fabrice Luchini
François Ozon. Catherine Deneuve. Gerard Depardieu. Three names within French cinema that have consistently been at the heart of its progression for quite some time. Being veteran explorers of taboos and controversies in the likes of Belle De Jour and Les Valseuses, the two very decorated main actors, give Potiche an air of grandeur.
Set in 1977 it tells the story of a Mrs. Pujol (Denueve) as we are introduced to her life as a ‘potiche’, French for trophy wife. As one would expect, clear use of cliché’s of ‘bourgeoisie lifestyle’ are present within the home she inhabits, as she ponders about with nothing to do. Her husband (Luchini) brings home the bacon, and countless affairs. She is clearly unhappy with her state of banality, until one day her husband is taken ill with work related stress over union strikes at his umbrella factory. Then, it is up to the ‘potiche’ to take control and run the frontlines. Potiche, feels like a film of two halves. Not that this is a bad thing, after all the narrative has been adapted from the play of the same name by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy. That said you could clearly see where they might have been an interval, as the structure of the story takes a drastic change half way through the running time.
The storyline is very exaggerated and that’s where its real comedy lies; very camp and very farcical. The humor can be remembered by its distinct signature moments, so much so that it sticks to memory. It is a beautifully theatrical tale that is further accentuated by Ozon’s capability of never failing to bring wit and quick dialogue to the screen. The characters are surprisingly well developed. The Pujol children Joëlle (Judith Godrèche) and Laurent (Jérémie Renier) are wonderfully crafted as the upper middle class rich kids, whose woes stretch ignorance to new levels.
Bottom line, it is the kind of well balanced film that will reach to Ozon fans anyway. If you are after a French title that is genuinely funny, contains a good cast, and by a director who clearly knows what he’s doing, give it a go.
As you would expect from Optimum, (now technically Studio Canal) you get a relatively balanced set of extras, a making of, which is informative yet quite concise. In addition, interviews with Deneuve and Ozon and a set of outtakes and trailers mark the rest of its added features. Nothing too special here.
Potiche is available on DVD and Blu Ray from 10/10/11