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“Potiche,” Reviewed

“Potiche,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Deneuve runs! France’s most immaculate actress kicks off “Potiche” in a tracksuit, jogging through the woods, controlling her breathing and taking in the birds, deer and mating rabbits along the path. She plays Suzanne Pujol, an impossibly glamorous neglected housewife — a potiche, a decorative object — whose husband Robert (Fabrice Luchini) cheats on her, ignores her in favor of tyrannically running her family’s factory (that makes, naturally, umbrellas) and, shame of all shames, forgets her birthday. Suzanne is uncomplaining and irreproachably coiffed, spending her days puttering around the house and turning a blind eye to her husband’s indiscretions… until the stress of striking workers destroys his health and leaves her temporarily in charge of running the company.

Based on a play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy, and set in 1977, “Potiche” finds Ozon back in the campy territory of “8 Women,” though the winking here is less aggressive and strained. François Ozon’s frothy, candy-colored comedy could be described as women’s lib kitsch — set in 1977, it’s the story of a mid-life awakenin and workers’ rights discussions that’s really just a giant valentine to Catherine Deneuve, visibly enjoying herself in the role.

Accused by her daughter Joëlle (Judith Godrèche) of complacency, Suzanne discovers a talent for negotiating with the workers and running an ethical, caring corporation (she dismisses a plan to outsource manufacturing to Tunisia as unfair to the longterm employees — ah, the movies) that leads to major changes in how she sees herself and her place in the world. Also in the mix is Maurice Babin (Gérard Depardieu), a local politician and communist party member who was once Suzanne’s lover; Nadège (Karin Viard), Robert’s secretary and lover who begins to reconsider her own position when Suzanne comes into power; and Laurent (Jérémie Renier), Suzanne’s art school son with a taste for Kandinsky and flamboyant scarves.

“Potiche” is not subtle in its storytelling — Robert is a cartoon villain, apoplectic and chauvinist, spouting lines like “Your job is to share my opinions, not have your own,” which makes it all the easier to take pleasure in Suzanne’s flowering in her new position and new responsibilities. But even as she triumphs, Suzanne is never vengeful or angry. Her journey is one of self-discovery, not striking back, and when she finally discards Robert it’s almost as an afterthought, the new life she’s discovered far more involving than any resentment she might have carried.

“Potiche”‘s most affirming moment may actually be the turn taken in the storyline with the fond Babin, after Suzanne unapologetically confesses to details of her romantic past — this isn’t a film about a woman finding the man she should have ended up with, it’s one about her discovering the life she wants to lead.

“Potiche” will be released by Music Box Films in 2011.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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