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How to be a Good Wife

Can the ideal woman adopt feminist ideals?

It’s 1968 and we’re in Alsace, at the Van Der Beck school of good housekeeping, where headmistress Paulette (Juliette Binoche, hilarious) is dispensing life lessons to her boarders, teenage girls in full bloom.

Paulette throws herself heart and soul into being the perfect wife. But when her husband Robert (François Berléand) suddenly dies, she learns that the school is on the verge of bankruptcy. A former lover, André (Édouard Baer), bursts back onto the scene, just as Paulette’s young boarders are beginning to display vague desires to escape the destiny dictated to them by society — a society where the revolutionary echoes of Paris’s May 68 protests are now reaching the provinces, bringing about a joyous, collective and growing feminist consciousness.

Buoyed by an easy-going sense of humour and excellent performances by the entire cast, How To Be A Good Wife is a wonderful portrayal of the road travelled over the past fifty or so years towards female emancipation, and of the fact that individual freedom is always essential to finding one’s place in the world.

– Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa

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Directed by: 
Martin Provost
Running Time: 
110 mins
French (with English subtitles)
Juliette Binoche
Yolande Moreau
Edouard Baer
Noémie Lvovsky
Screenplay by: 
Martin Provost
Séverine Werba

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