103 minutes

A trophy housewife finds out her real talents when she must replace her tyrannical husband at the helm of the family business.

Potiche is the closest French wonderboy auteur François Ozon has come to a surefire commercial movie since his 2002 global breakthrough with the tongue-in-cheek all-star musical murder mystery 8 Femmes. But the new film is a slyer, more layered confection, twisting a theatrical hit farce into a gently satirical allegory of a macho, misogynistic France that hasn't changed as much as it thinks he has.
The tale of a trophy bourgeois housewife that finds her true self after her success at running the family company for her ailing husband is on the surface a taut, precise comedy about a woman at a crossroads, cheerfully portrayed by a delightfully dressed-down Catherine Deneuve, ably supported by a dream cast where everyone is clearly having a ball. But Ozon's clinical way with genre and satire also allows him, by retaining the original late-seventies setting, to play with the open theatricality of the set-up and to offer a distorted mirror of social mores and manners that speaks to contemporary France, under the guise of an affectionate, parodic throwback to French film comedies of the era.
To be clear, the retro mood can seem a bit too facile, and you sense Ozon is biding his time until a more ambitious project such as the ill-fated Angel or his masterpiece Le Temps qui Reste. But, with its skewed look at family and its rich portrait of a woman, Potiche is still recognisably of its director, and its fizzy mood and sheer pleasurable fun make it very welcome in a landscape that has been sadly short in good comedies.
© 2011 Jorge Mourinha. all rights reserved by the author

Starring Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, Fabrice Luchini, Karin Viard, Judith Godrèche, Jérémie Rénier.
Directed by François Ozon; produced by Éric Altmayer and Nicolas Altmayer; screenplay by Mr. Ozon, based on the stage play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy, Potiche; music by Philippe Rombi; director of photography (Eclair), Yorick le Saux; production designer, Katia Wyszkop; costume designer, Pascaline Chavanne; film editor, Laure Gardette. 
A Mandarin Cinéma presentation of a Mandarin Cinéma/Foz/France 2 Cinéma/Mars Films/Wild Bunch/Scope Pictures co-production; with the participation of Canal Plus, TPS Star, France Télévisions, Région Wallonne; in association with La Banque Postale Image 3, Cofinova 6, Cinemage 4, Soficinéma 6. (French distributor, Mars Distribution. World sales, Wild Bunch.)
Screened: Venice Film Festival advance press screening, Palazzo del Casinò - Sala Perla (Venice), September 4th 2010. 


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