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Potiche (Trophy Wife)

Catherine Denueve and Gerard Depardieu in a Francois Ozon film

Who knew that beneath her coolly gorgeous exterior, Catherine Deneuve is actually funny? In “Potiche” — French for “trophy wife” — the 67-year-old actress finally gets to do comedy. Granted, it’s not the sort of grandstanding you see in most American yuk-fests, but it’s delightful nonetheless. Deneuve plays Suzanne, whose husband, Robert (Fabrice Luchini), runs the umbrella factory established by her father. She lives a life of genteel inconsequence. Robert, a confirmed womanizer with a robber baron mentality, treats her like an idiot. Her grown children (Judith Godreche, Jeremie Renier) aren’t much better. All that changes when Robert’s draconian management style results in a strike. When angry workers hold him hostage, Suzanne must negotiate his release, abetted by the communist politician Babin (Gerard Depardieu, doing a convincing imitation of a beached whale). While Robert recuperates on a long cruise, Suzanne takes charge. She addresses workers’ concerns, begins talking about profit-sharing, gives her children the first meaningful jobs of their lives and turns her husband’s latest mistress — his secretary (Karin Viard) — into a devoted sister. It’s reminiscent of “The Solid Gold Cadillac,” the classic comedy in which a seemingly naive woman moves into the executive suite and begins running circles around the ruthless capitalists. Lest it become too predictable, director Francois Ozon (“8 Women,” “Swimming Pool”) keeps us off balance with some deft changeups. “Potiche” is set in the late 1970s, and Ozon has much fun playing with bright color schemes and bell-bottomed fashions. In one jaw-dropping sequence, Depardieu and Deneuve parody John Travolta’s signature disco routine from “Saturday Night Fever.” It should become a YouTube favorite. The movie touches some serious themes (feminism, labor-management antagonisms, outsourcing jobs to cheap foreign labor), but mostly it’s a lightweight delight. courtesy of Robert Butler, Kansas City Star Official Trailer
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Directed by: 
Francois Ozon
Running Time: 
French with English subtitles
Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Fabrice Luchini, Karin Viard, Judith Godreche, Jeremie Renier
Screenplay by: 
Screenplay by Francois Ozon, based on the play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy

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