Okay, our next movie is the French comedy "The Women on the 6th Floor." It stars Fabrice Luchini as Jean-Louis, a bourgeois stockbroker in 1960s Paris. He has a socialite wife and two bratty kids in boarding school. When they part ways with the family's longtime maid, a vibrant and beautiful young Spanish woman named Maria, played by Natalia Verbeke, takes over.
But Maria ends up being a guide to a world Jean-Louis never knew existed. It seems all the neighborhood maids live right above him in his building -- women who fled Franco's Spain to make a living serving others in Paris. And they're having a way better time in cramped quarters than he ever does in his cushy abode.
Yes, this reverse version of "Upstairs/Downstairs" is obvious and often hokey in its sentiment. It spells out emotions that I would rather have seen left implied. But I laughed -- a lot -- and a lot of that has to do with Luchini's performance. He finds the absurdity in being a fish out of water but also the grace in enjoying a new way of living, and finding out who he is on his own for the first time. It's sweet and harmless and crowd-pleasing, and I give it a thumbs-up.
IGNATIY: You know this is…it’s a pretty looking movie. It’s…the actors are all good. It’s you know well-made as we say, but it left a really sour after taste in my mouth.
CHRISTY: Even though the last shot is so up-lifting and sweet.
CHRISTY: It’s not uplifting. I think…
CHRISTY: You don’t think so?
IGNATIY: I don’t find the last shot uplifting and sweet.
IGNATIY: Because so much of, you know, this film is built around, you know, his desire for this maid. Do you think that this that all this maid really, you know, has thought of… dreamt of her whole life is that she’ll be persued by like a middle-aged, balding, ponchy, French stock broker.
CHRISTY: No, but I guess that part of it…
IGNATIY: And it never considers her perspective.
CHRISTY: No, I guess part of it, too is that she’s trying to do the best that she can for her son, and this is the life that she never looked for herself either. I mean they’re cute together.
IGNATIY: They’re cute.
CHRISTY: They’re opposites. They’re cute together. It’s you know.
IGNATIY: You know,it’s…the as you said the, it’s a movie that’s largely inoffensive. I find it hard to say hate it, but I don’t like it at the same time. Um, and I think it partially is that imbalance, and the fact that it exotizes her to such a degree that she…she starts out in the movie as a character but towards the end I think she just becomes an object.
CHRISTY: They romanticize the whole idea of these women. I mean they’re all essentially interchangeable, but they are metaphor for his freedom. There you go.