In the middle of a hot and humid Saturday afternoon, I slipped into the Gene Siskel Film Center to watch Francois Ozon’s Potiche, starring the eternally luminous Catherine Deneuve and France’s answer to the teddy bear, Gérard Depardieu. I think there is a local ordinance against going to the movies on a sunny Saturday afternoon in July when you are supposed to be either relaxing at the beach or eating an enormous turkey leg with your bare hands at the Taste of Chicago. But I’ve never been one to play by the rules, and this in particular is one that I take great pleasure in breaking whenever the opportunity presents itself. Watching Potiche was like sitting in a dainty but ornate wire café chair, snacking on meringues and champagne. This is a movie that tickled my nose and made me giggle with its silly send-ups of French sexism circa 1977 (hmmmmm…) and clever allusions to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les parapluies de Cherbourg 1964), the film that originally brought a 20-year old Deneuve international attention.
|Catherine Deneuve in Potiche|
Coincidentally, I watched Ricky (2009) at home on Friday night, making Potiche my second film directed by François Ozon in twenty-four hours. Ricky is a perversely funny movie featuring a rather un-cherubic flying baby. I’m still puzzled by some elements of it, in particular how the very grim opening scene (in which the mother tries to put her child in foster care) relates to the rest of the film. I’m also ashamed of myself for laughing so hard when baby Ricky manages to escape from a shopping cart while in a supermarket with his mother and proceeds to crash into everything in the store like a rabid bat. I thought it was really funny. I’m sorry.
Potiche is playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago until Thursday, 7 July.