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The Women On The Sixth Floor

2012-03-01

by Richard von Busack

(Opens Mar 2 at the Summerfield Cinemas in Santa Rosa, California)
(unrated; 104 min.)
Fabrice Luchini is an ace farceur (Potiche, The Girl from Monaco, and beyond). He uses (and needs) everything he’s got in The Women on the Sixth Floor. He’s a put-upon middle-aged Parisian stockbroker of 1962 who gets a crush on Maria, the new Spanish maid (the Julia Robertsish Natalie Verbeke).

Maria lives upstairs with a flock of other renting Spanish domestics, including her aunt, played by Carmen Maura, and a salty Communist exile from Franco, Lola Duenas). Even if this plot was disagreeable when it was made into Spanglish, it’s mildly amusing here…though, just as last time, it’s a thorough celebration of a patron. Sandrine Kiberlain is Luchini’s wife, who misreads the situation; similarly director Phillipe Le Guay misreads an old man’s love for a young girl as a conscienceness raising. The nostalgia for the smock and beret days of De Gaulle tends to mitigate the none-too-crispy writing.