By Doug Brunell | June 11, 2013

Catherine Deneuve plays Suzanne, a trophy wife whose husband is taken hostage by the disgruntled workers in his umbrella factory.  The only man who can help her is Babin (Gerard Depardieu), who is a Communist and union leader.  After her husband is freed and suffers a heart attack, Suzanne must take over the company and turn it around, quelling labor unrest and meeting familial obligations.  This is a romantic comedy?

Yes.  Yes it is.

Based on a French play and set in 1977, this witty and touching film takes what could have been a standard love story and sets it apart by using class politics and sexism as backdrops.  They aren’t just window dressing, however.  These two things are essential to the story and not only guide it along but also make the ending quite satisfying.  I’m just as surprised to be writing that as you are to be reading those words.  Honestly, I was not expecting to enjoy this film at all, and a lot of the credit for that enjoyment goes to the director, François Ozon.

Ozon makes sure that his characters are three-dimensional, complex and realistic.  Far too many romantic comedies make use of cookie-cutter personalities going through the same set of circumstances we’ve seen before.  The jokes may be different, but everything else remains the same.  That is not the case here, and audiences are better off for it.  In fact, writers of romantic comedies should be paying attention to this story, because this is exactly how you make a genre film stand head and shoulders above others.

Beautifully shot, a wonderful story, excellent performances from each actor – there is really no reason not to watch this one… unless you hate subtitles.

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