Autumn 2011 Features series
Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 4:00pm
Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 7:00pm
Directed by François Ozon
Screenplay by François Ozon
Based on the play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy
Starring Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu and Fabrice Luchini
Rated NR ·
Directed by François Ozon (The Swimming Pool), Potiche is a free adaptation of the eponymous hit comic play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédys. The film is set in a provincial French town in 1977. Suzanne (Catherine Deneuve) is the submissive wife of rich industrialist Robert Pujol (Fabrice Luchini), who runs his umbrella factory with an iron hand and turns out to be just as nasty and tyrannical with his workers as he is with his mistress, children and trophy wife.
After the workers go on strike and hold Robert captive, Suzanne ends up managing the factory, instead of her husband, who is disowned by the staff. Distressed and in poor health, Robert goes away for a while and, to the surprise of most, Suzanne proves to be an assertive woman of action. With the help of the town mayor, her former lover Maurice Babin (Gérard Depardieu), she puts an end to the strike, gets the factory running again and improves the employees working conditions. But when Robert returns from his trip in good health, the situation gets complicated.
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle calls the film “a trifle [which] adopts a candy-box color palette that evokes the fluffy comedies of the late ’60s and early ’70s. It’s funny, broad and never stops moving. It’s made to please, and succeeds. But it’s also the movie that Deneuve has been heading toward for the better part of two decades. Once the cinema’s ice goddess, Deneuve has become less guarded, less cold and less certain in her screen incarnations, and Potiche completes that work.”
Roger Ebert, in the Chicago Sun-Times labels the film “a whimsical comedy (…).There’s little effort at psychological depth, and the characters float along on the requirements of comedy. But it’s 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.”