Opening 24 Mar 2011
Catherine Deneuve is the pretty, prim and proper Madame Suzanne, wife of factory director Pujol (Fabrice Luchini), mother of Joelle (Judith Godreche) and Laurent (Jeremie Renier). The children are grown-up, her bossy macho-husband prefers flirting with his young secretary Nadége (Karin Viard) and Suzanne feels unappreciated, just like a Potiche (eyecandy), a useless decoration in the house. Whilst her choleric husband is ranting about his lazy workmen he suffers a heart attack. What to do?
The show must go on. Suzanne is chosen to act in the name of her ailing husband – so he confidently demands. Things turn out differently. Instead of exploitation she promises the workmen prosperity and fair treatment. She teams up with the communist Mayor Babin (Gérard Depardieu), an unexpectedly romantic and supportive ally. The formerly inconspicuous director’s wife turns out to be a better leader, a progressive woman with innovative ideas. All seems well and flourishing. When Pujol recovers he is happy in getting back as head of the family, pushing Suzanne aside and unyieldingly demanding his place as boss of the factory. There is no way that Suzanne can again become a Potiche. She plans her revenge.
With cynical dialogue and sparkling wit, this comedy by Francois Ozon (8 Women, Swimming Pool) is very satisfying entertainment. You can sit back and enjoy the excellent interaction of talented actors, marvel at the colours and décor of the ‘70s accompanied by French chansons of the time and smile at the wickedly funny scenes. At the same time it offers not only a view back in history but highlights the limitations of the so called “power woman” with biting humour. Not all that much has changed during the last thirty years. (Birgit Schrumpf)