Friday, March 25, 2011

Ozon's POTICHE opens; Deneuve, Depardieu, Lucchini and ensemble shine

French filmmaker François Ozon has many moods, and with his newest film, POTICHE, he is in perhaps his lightest and fluffiest since he began pointing a camera. (He’s a lot more grown-up now than in the days when he wanted to shock us with Sitcom.) Here also is Catherine Deneuve in as good a role – full, rich, one in which she truly “stars” -- as that icon of French cinema has had in several years (certainly since A Christmas Tale). Maybe best of all, here are the 1970s, French-style, with all the fab fashions and furnishings that we’ve come to love/hate.

Potiche is, beyond its many other pleasures, a visual treat. It tells the story of a wealthy family, owner of an umbrella factory, and what happens when labor unrest knocks the nasty father from his perch and allows mom (Ms Deneuve) to take the reins. The film is based upon a theatrical boulevard comedy, and its roots are apparent to some extent, but this does not do great damage. Ozon, shown at right, has opened up the movie's locations nicely, while keeping events moving in a sprightly manner so that his film remains for the most part funny, charming and sly.

Did I mention Gérard Depardieu (shown above with Ms Deneuve), Fabrice Luchini, (reclining below, center), Karin Viard (the redhead, center right), Judith Godrèche (at left) and Jérémie Renier (between Viard and Depardieu)? Yes -- and each is terrific. Comedy, romance, women’s lib, even the emerging rustle of gay lib. So what if it’s a bit predictable and sags in the center. It’s mostly delightful. Simply for its opening ode to Walt Disney (?!) I would, and will, watch it again.

Snapped up by Music Box Films for U.S. distribution, Potiche was the opening night attraction at the recent Rendez-vous with French Cinema series, and opens theatrically today in New York City, the Los Angeles area and in Irvine, California. Throughout April it will continue its nationwide roll-out. Click here (then scroll down) to find a city and theater near you.

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