Potiche Review

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It's 1970s France and factory heiress Suzanne Pujol (Deneuve) twiddles her thumbs at home while her domineering husband Robert (Luchini) runs her family business. But when Robert falls ill she takes over his role. With the encouragement of old flame and union boss Maurice Babin (Depardieu), her ambitions for the business grow.


Catherine Deneuve is a bundle of fun in this ’70s-set comedy. She’s the patient, put-upon trophy housewife of a right-wing factory owner. Stepping into his shoes while he’s ill, she proves herself up to the job with a caring, sharing approach that wins over striking factory workers. Based on a play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy, it’s both an inspiring tale of female empowerment and a jolly good laugh: director François Ozon sends up the ’70s beautifully with Farrah flicks, constant smoking and bed-hopping. Meanwhile Gérard Depardieu lends his considerable weight as Deneuve’s political ex, who’s keen to lend a hand in more ways than one. This outstays its welcome with a baggy third act but it’s still a vibrant period pastiche that recalls the fighting spirit of Dolly Parton classic Nine To Five.

Like a Gallic Nine To Five ('Neuf a Cinq'?), Ozon's comedy is a uniquely French skew on the gender politics of the home and the workplace. It's mostly funny, fast and fondly made although it drags a little towards the end.