Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. France, 2010. Mandarin Films, FOZ, France 2 Cinema, Mars Films, Wild Bunch, Scope Pictures, Canal+, France Télévision, TPS Star, Région Wallone, La Banque Postale Image 3, Cofinova 6, Cinémage 4, Soficinéma 6, SCOPE Invest. Screenplay by Francois Ozon, based on the play by Pierre Barillet, Jean-Pierre Gredy. Cinematography by Yorick Le Saux. Produced by Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer. Music by Philippe Rombi. Production Design by Katia Wyszkop. Costume Design by Pascaline Chavanne. Film Editing by Laure Gardette. Toronto International Film Festival 2010.
Francois Ozon returns to kitsch with this ironic comedy about female empowerment. Catherine Deneuve is delightful as a trophy housewife whose children (Jérémie Renier, Judith Godrèche) are ashamed of her and whose husband (Fabrice Luchini) cheats on her openly. When Luchini takes ill and is unable to run the factory that Deneuve inherited from her father, she steps in to make sure that the escalating troubles with striking labour unions do not sink their operation, and immediately finds herself enjoying the world of business. Before long she has improved things around the factory (Ozon does not ignore the irony of the Umbrellas of Cherbourg lass now creating the umbrellas), brought employee-manager relations to their zenith and even found productive ways to get their children involved. It isn’t long before Luchini starts to want his job back and she has to decide whether or not she is going to make good use of the life skills she has acquired or just return to the life of a lowly housewife. Despite an impressive cast, which also includes Gerard Depardieu as the town’s mayor and Deneuve’s former lover, and Karin Viard as Luchini’s sexy secretary, this film is a highly enjoyable mess: Ozon wants to convince you that there is a steely political message hiding behind the capricious silliness of the plot, but there is no subtext, it truly is as frothy as it seems and the loose ends it leaves untied only add to its lack of effect. On the other hand, who could ever complain about watching Deneuve at her finest? The woman is near seventy here and still has the same fresh instincts and curious energy that she brought to Demy’s musical over forty years ago. Still, be advised that 8 Women it is not.