This is my review of Potiche [DVD] .
This tale involving a strike at a French umbrella factory reminds me of the recent “Made in Dagenham” about the 1968 Ford dispute over equal pay for women, but it is purely fictional, and a more lighthearted comedy.
Catherine Deneuve arouses immediate sympathy as Suzanne Pujol, the underestimated middle-aged “trophy wife” of Robert, the ghastly man who has taken over her father’s business and driven the staff to mutiny through his heavy-handed management style. When Robert is incapacitated by a heart attack, Suzanne is persuaded to take over and proves a remarkably emollient and creative director. Of course, when he has recovered, she is expected to get back on her ornamental shelf. But after a taste of power, combined with her discovery of his philandering, how can she return to being a simple “potiche”? Also, where will the loyalties of the couples’ son and daughter lie?
There is the added complication of the Suzanne’s long ago fling with Maurice Babin, the town’s socialist mayor, played by Gerard Depardieu, whose help she needs at first to pacify the angry strikers.
Recommended for a well-acted and humorous evening’s entertainment.