Screwball comedy meets political boilerplate
The eclectic François Ozon often combines the offbeat and the generic to the benefit of both. Potiche (French for "trophy wife") is more of a pastiche, a hodge-podge of screwball comedy and political boilerplate set in a garish version of 1977. But it does star Catherine Deneuve as Suzanne, the neglected wife of Robert (Fabrice Luchini), a boorish umbrella-factory owner, and she makes you believe that her character is indeed more formidable and unpredictable than she first appears. When a labor crisis breaks out at the factory, Robert — who is as high-handed dealing with his help as he is with his wife — tries to crush the troublemakers but ends up in the hospital with a heart attack. In his absence, Suzanne fills in at the factory — which was hers to begin with until Robert took over — and both she and the business flourish. Gérard Depardieu wallows about in the role of the Communist mayor with a dodgy past, but Deneuve's aplomb holds it all together.
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