French Films Occupy (a Corner of) Central Park

PoticheDeneuve in Revolt

Cinema on the Green 8:30 pm Central Park — tonight

Just when the Paris Climate Agreement – or what’s left of it — is fresh in everyone’s mind, the French are launching their summer film series in New York, Cinema on the Green —  screenings that are free to the public. That’s free, absolutely free. Gratuit, in French.

Women in Power

Women in Power

This summer, the films are selected based on recommendations by Americans actors and directors. Tonight’s film, weather permitting, chosen by the comedian and actress Wanda Sykes, is Potiche (2010), the gently feminist comedy with Catherine Deneuve and directed by Francois Ozon, about an improbable woman who seizes an improbable opportunity to run a business and take control of her own life.  Wanda Sykes will introduce the film in person. Here’s a trailer.

Potiche means trophy wife in French. It also means decorative vase and by extension window dressing. The potiche hear is Suzanne (Deneuve), who takes over her family’s umbrella factory when striking workers take her philandering (naturellement) husband (Fabrice Luchini) hostage. Gerard Depardieu plays a communist union leader and politician.

The period Potiche, with 70’s clothes that looked frumpy even when Deneuve wore them, is adapted by Ozon from a 1977 French-Belgian play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy.

Given the product manufactured by Deneuve’s factory, you won’t miss the homage to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the 1964 film by Jacques Demy that was crucial to the actress’s fame. Given the potiche close to a man in power in the White House today, you won’t miss an oblique reference to some characters closer to home.

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