Lately, several friends have said they’re traveling to France and need to brush up on the language before boarding the plane. Potiche is perfect for just that. It’s a French film that can be seen with English subtitles, so even if you don’t speak French, you can still marvel at this timeless story and the magic of Catherine Deneuve.
Potiche is a master of sly humor with clever dialogue. The title loosely translates into “trophy wife.” Catherine begins the movie as a perfectly-appointed corporate spouse, but this trophy doesn’t stay on the shelf for long. After her husband is held hostage by his union workers and suffers a heart attack, she rises to the occasion and runs the family business with the staff in mutiny. And, wow, can she run that business in whip-smart fashion. I won’t tell you what happens because I don’t want to ruin the movie, but I will say that she always had it in her. She had to believe in herself before others could believe in her. Throughout her transformation, she remained true to herself. When it was suggested that she remove her pearls for her first negotiation with angry union leaders, she demurred, explaining that she wouldn’t apologize for being a woman.
One of the memorable moments in this film occurs when Catherine is abandoned by someone she thinks she can trust. She is left alone in a secluded area and expected to haul ass five miles back to work in heels. Do you think Catherine removes those heels or hauls herself? Not at all! Through intelligence and charisma, she returns to the office without missing a beat or getting a hair out of place. Catherine skillfully deals with obstacles through humor, charm, and perseverance. She proves that beauty comes in all ages while embodying strength and femininity—a combination we could use more of today.