Thursday, 30 June 2011

Potiche of genius!

Went to see French film Potiche at the lovely Barbican cinema. I was also treated to a short film before the main title by animator and filmmaker Jessica Wainwright, as part of the Watch Me Move Exhibition currently on in the main gallery.
This short film animation is both lovely, charming and a joy to watch. Constructed together around a monologue text by Betty, images are created and quickly dissolve into the next thought. If you have a nan or are indeed (as myself) from Wales you'll find this film funnily quite close to home. The innocence of the character Betty displays warmth and beauty, I'm glad this was found, please watch....

Betty from Jessica Wainwright on Vimeo.

"Catherine Deneuve excels as a trophy wife (potiche) turned factory boss in François Ozon's hugely enjoyable, witty farce set in seventies France based on a stage play by Pierre Barrilet and Jean-Pierre Gredy.

Suzanne (Deneuve) lives a comfortable but limited life as an affluent housewife. Her husband, the arrogant, philandering Robert (Fabrice Luchini) runs the umbrella factory her father created (a return to umbrellas for Deneuve, almost 50 years on from her role in Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg). But it's 1977 and Robert is hospitalised following an encounter with strikers when unrest hits the factory. Suzanne takes the reigns and is aided in worker relations by old flame and communist major (Gerard Depardieu)".

This beautiful French film had me in tears of joy, happiness, laughter, sadness and at times sheer anger and disbelief at individual attitudes towards women in the work environment. Cleverly crafted with a superb cast makes this film one of the best I have seen this year. The mature storyline allows romances to be rekindled and sparked while the choice of career and love and in debate. The plot issue of women having power within the workplace reminds me of how far we have come as a society now, though only too real that these subtle issues, may be subtle, but are still relevant today. I may not class myself as a feminist but I completely agree with the principles! I couldn't stop watching, and by the audiences reaction this film was a great success!


  1. Just to play devil's advocate a moment, why would you not describe yourself as a feminist? Do you believe women are inferior in value, intellect, or productivity to men? Do you believe a woman's place is in a subservient or submissive role, as outlined in the Bible? Should women not have the right to decide on matters relating to their health, welfare, career, or family? What would you class yourself as?

    Less insultingly, what does the word "Feminist" mean to you?

  2. Sorry, I'm still thinking about this. I grew up in an area of the world where there is a quite significant proportion of men and women who do not believe women are equal in value, intellect, or usefulness to men. They're called Fundamentalists, and they're insane. If they had their way women would lose all rights entirely, would lose the right to work for pay or make their own choices. They would not have the right to contraception or promiscuity, they could be expelled from their families for having sex outside of marriage, and they could be legally prohibited from seeking divorce without the permission of their fathers (who would naturally take them back into custody once the separation from the husband was finalized.) It probably also goes without saying that these people also demand that public schools take all of their curricula from the bible and have no idea why sane adults point toward Afghanistan to explain what the world would be like if they had their way, but nevertheless these people are very much real, plentiful, and loud. Where I come from Feminism is still very much alive, because it is still very much under threat from religious fanatics who would take our rights, our shot at equality, and our dignity away and replace them with slavery and fairy stories to justify it. Where I come from. The leader of the f'ing free world.

  3. Thanks Kristen for your comments. I'm glad that this post has made you take the time to articulate your thoughts and views in response, which I must say are very poignant and interesting.

    But just to clear up; when I wrote this post review I was talking in the tone and style that the beautiful film Potiche by François Ozon delicately trips along. When I say ‘I may not class myself as a feminist’ I am referring to the ‘feminist’ stereotype reference that has been shamefully placed upon that word and to people who openly declare they are. I am expressing that I am not that type, who (as most people think) ultimately ‘hate men’. I actually care for the values that that word holds and the principles which are very much relevant to everyone who believes (as I do) that everyone, every gender should be treated as equal.

    That was the main reason I wanted to write a post about this film, not only because of how brilliant it was shot/ edited/ acted, but that when I was watching it, it ‘hit home’; the opinions and thoughts of others about women’s rights- especially in the work environment.

    Maybe I haven’t expressed my opinions and my admiration for values of this film well in my initial post, and the clever way it tail ends the issues with humour, followed by shock reality through simple dialogue. But I do feel strongly for this issue, and the fact that a film set in a certain time era still holds conversation in today’s world about the same issues. (Reading the Shortlist free mag today- their topics for conversation is built around the fact that 'it wont be for another hundred years before women will be on equal pay to men'--big article). But definitely room for further debate and questioning...very interesting to think about, thanks for the thoughts!

  4. P.S. sorry for late reply... blogspot decided to mess with my settings! doh!