This week’s Washington City Paper features a ludicrous amount of coverage devoted to Filmfest DC. Want to know what to expect? Here’s our review of the festival’s opening-night film, Potiche, which shows Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre.
Catherine Deneuve as umbrella saleswoman? It’s worked before. But Potiche is far from Cherbourg. In this political farce by François Ozon based on a 1980 play of the same name, Deneuve is Suzanne Pujol, the smothered housewife of a pig of an umbrella magnate (Fabrice Luchini) in Northeastern France. She first appears jogging through her estate wearing a lumpy red sweatsuit and flashing a blank, unchanging smile at the woodland creatures she spots—a Real Housewife of Pas-de-Calais. M. Pujol mismanages himself into cardiac arrest quickly enough, ceding control of the umbrella factory to Suzanne and allowing her the chance to shed her “potiche” (trophy wife) label. But it is Maurice, a labor leader and old flame played by Gérard Depardieu, who gives her the push out the door. Ozon doesn’t do comedy nearly as well as he does suspense (see Swimming Pool), but Deneuve and Depardieu afford him tremendous leeway amid a scatterbrained plot. Though both actors are getting on in years, their chemistry never wanes. I’d watch these two in any era.