I talk about Francois Ozan more than I ever planned to. His thriller “Swimming Pool” received a lot of attention in the United States due to its cool pacing and all of the nudity. Then he makes Ricky, a misguided family film that tries to be whimsical while focused on realism. Now with Potiche, he has a bright colored farce. Is he the French Danny Boyle or is he genre ADD?
The palate looks like how “Down With Love” handled the 60s, even though this takes place in 1977. The humor and characters have of a blend of Jean-Pierre Jenuet’s sensibilities but never really sticks with it. Then the plot is reminiscent of “Made in Dagenham.”
Certain directors can blend different elements into a solid product, but Ozan isn’t that masterful. What holds the movie together is the great performance by Catherine Deneuve. She plays a “trophy housewife” who has to step up when her husband can’t go into work. She takes it upon herself to handle the crisis at the umbrella factory when the workers want to go on strike.
By doing this she can show what women can do in a man’s world and this inspires other women to respect themselves more. However the major foil in her path his an old boyfriend played by Gérad Depardieu (“Cyrano de Bergerac”). Their back and forth is what works the most in the movie, but it’s all played for cutesy affect.
There aren’t any surprises with “Potiche”. It is most interested in creating a light atmosphere. The actors know what to do even if the story doesn’t. It’s unfair to group an entire country like this, but French films are always the best for breaking structure and letting the story be more organic. This one plays it by the numbers. That doesn’t get to be as funny or much to remember from it. After a point, the most entertaining aspect is seeing Ozan play around with filming the flashbacks.
It’s evident that Ozan likes the experimentation of film. He wants to see all that he can do, but he needs to stop writing his own stuff. Every time his style isn’t able to match what the film is actually saying. Yet he seems to be a success so we’ll see what happens next.
There is a 72 making-of featurette, a smaller one about the costumes, and a stylish trailer that makes this look like a 70s film. All of them are entertaining and a bit clever.
Film: 3.5 Yaps
Extras: 3.5 Yaps