A beautiful vase in the early 70s transformed: title translated Trophy Wife. Suzanne Pujol(Catherine Deneuve) is a stay-at-home wife caters to every need her husband demands; she is content with her morning jog, talking to her pals in nature, and writes poems. Robert Pujol(Fabrice Luchini) took over Suzanne’s father family business that makes umbrellas (maybe to reprise the theme of Deneuve‘s sentimental film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg); he swears at her for the business is killing him! She just listens fulfilling her role of an attentive wife and caring mother. That’s until her husband fallen ill over stress. French director, François Ozon delivered a kitschy comedy that celebrated and endorsed women’s power. As usual, Deneuve was the film.
The story is about a small town with an umbrella factory that supports the town folks, and the union is not happy with layoffs, demands of long hours, reduced benefits, the usual gamits. Robert is in the midst of trying to resolve the labour issue, while having an affair with his secretary, Nadège Dumoulin(Karin Viard), of which his wife seems to be oblivious. Suzanne’s daughter Joëlle Pujol (Judith Godrèche) speaks to her mom about divorcing her husband that travels all the time, and she wants a career, i.e., what a modern woman should be. She despises that her mom acquiesces and never protests of her own needs. Suzanne calms her daughter and asks her to reconsider for her grandchild sake. Suzanne’s son, Laurent(Jérémie Renier), on the other hand, hates business; he speaks of a “girlfriend” that is always too busy to meet the parents, and she conveniently works in faraway Paris. He is a well-dressed preppy guy that adores Kandinsky paintings (Hmmm…). Their father’s mild heart-attack brings the family together, and put Suzanne in-charge of the factory.
Fortunately, Suzanne has a confidant, the deputy mayor, Maurice Babin(Gérard Depardieu), who helps her starting a conversation with the stewards. One night they rekindle on the dance floor in a night club stepping to the beats of Saturday Night Fever (1997) -ish music.
Months pass, Robert is recovering, and Suzanne likes her job a lot. She thinks she will not have problem taking over the president and chair-woman position from her husband. She thinks that her children’s shares and hers will make her a majority shareholder; therefore, unseating her husband. Is it this simple?
True to Ozon’s directing style, there are intrigues that you will discover along the way. Where is the fun if everything is presented as is. I definitely like the way he unfolds Suzanne: is she really that docile and chaste – a true lady? What about Babin and her? The scene between Deneuve and my favourite Spanish/French actor, Sergi López (Pan’s Labyrinth) in his 18 wheelers probably answers my first question!
The costume and make-up were impeccable reminiscence of the 70s, including the home decors and the automobiles. As usual, Ozon gives her female actors strong roles and voices that are refined and sophisticated.
WATCH…a feel good fluff completes with effervescence of H.Clinton, S.Palin, M.Obama…