No, you heard me well … I am not a ‘potiche‘, namely one of these:
I’d rather see myself like her…
…a young and lovely Catherine Deneuve!
I have just seen her appearence in the film ‘Potiche’ by the talented director François Ozon that also was presented at the Venice Film Festival 2010 and that is the way I feel now: simply in awe of Catherine Deneuve’s charme!
The story is simple: a repressed wife of a rich industrialist in the 1970s in France. But the way it is told is so refreshingly modern. It looks back at trade union movements in the growing capitalist world and it reinterprets a moment of political unrest taking a feminist perspective. After being criticised by everyone, even her own daughter, of being passive and submissive, Suzanne (Catherine Deneuve) takes advantage of a difficult moment in her husband’s life to take on a new role and twist the situation to show everyone that she is not a ‘potiche’ at all, but a woman with a heart, a will and brains to get what she wants without losing her charme.
I don’t believe it should be read merely as a film that wants women to ‘rebel’ to their status of house-wives and mothers. It wants to show that inside a woman that might be quite, submissive and apparently without a strong will, there is in fact a smart and vibrant personality that allows the family and everything else around it to run smoothly, without being in the spotlight. She is the one who notices the small details around the house and who appreciates little squirrels rather than the ironies of life when running around the park. And, sometimes, a quiet ‘chipie‘ might suddenly emerge as being much louder than everyone else. Even louder than her past lover and political competitor Babin (Gérard Depardieu).
Apparently the director was inspired by Nicolas Sarkozy’s macho-attitude, and thought that this film would be a good reply to reaffirm the role of women in the modern world. Women who can keep their clothes on and show they have a brain.
Maybe we should all take note of that.