Director: François Ozon
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Fabrice Luchini
Karin Viard, Jérémie Renier, Judith Godrèche
Watching Catherine Deneuve act is one of those things that ultimately can only be called: a pleasure. The way in which she takes hold of the screen with her majestic beauty to deliver uncharacteristically quirky but always marvelous performances, is one of the reasons why anything starring her is an instant must watch.
In Potiche she receives yet another chance to shine on her own terms. She plays Suzanne Pujol, the wife of a wealthy umbrella-factory owner (Luchini) who goes from being a mere "potiche" (French for flower vase and trophy wife) to running her husband's company and eventually finding that she might just be made for politics.
What could've been a forced enlightenment melodrama is instead a whimsical tale about families and creating your identity despite being labeled by others. As usual Ozon lets his flair for the dramatic get the best of him and the movie, which is set in the 1970s, uses some stylistic flourishes that distract from the main plot and the film never really decides if it wants to be whimsical or more character centric.
The supporting cast is extraordinary, Depardieu in particular who has great chemistry with Deneuve but with such an uneven screenplay it's difficult to know exactly what the movie is trying to achieve which makes its twists seem arbitrary and rather ridiculous at times. Ozon can master farce when he wants to but Potiche leaves much to be desired.