With Potiche, Ozon goes back to 1977, where he has the opportunity to play with color (a weakness of his), fashion and gender clichés in the most delightful way.
When the despotic owner of an umbrella factory falls ill at the unfortunate time of a strike by his workers, his wife (the decorative item referred to in the title) is forced to take over business affairs.
Naïve, but with a wonderful directness, there’s clearly more to her than we first thought. She manages everything quite well, with the perhaps surprising assistance of the local communist politician and the equally unlikely involvement of her two children. But when her husband returns from rehab and tries to reclaim his position, things really become unhinged.
From the first scene, where she jogs through the woods around her villa in what the Germans then called ‘Trimm-Trab’, Deneuve shows that she can laugh at herself. The same holds true for Depardieu, whose formidable presence really holds the film together.
Ozon has always been a great actor-director, and even though he doesn’t quite know how to end his otherwise perfectly executed comedy, it’s certainly a highly entertaining fluff piece, complete with gratuitous singing and Bambi cameos.
POTICHE (Trophy Wife) | Directed by François Ozon (France 2011) with Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, Fabrice. Opens March 24