How Do I Describe This?
Ping Lim | Christchurch | 06/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Its difficult to categorise this movie. Even though it's defined as a comedy, in actuality it is not. It is a French movie & yet, it is not an art house movie. The story revolves around a sound engineer who is mourning over his breakup with his wife. He lives alone and due to his inability to balance his work and housekeeping, he engages a housekeeper to tend to his needs. As time progresses and as the housekeeper becomes emboldened, she requests to move into his house. She herself has been a victim of a relationship break-up as well. What would happen when two lonely persons are put into one confined space? Take a lucky guess. When both persons decide to take a holiday at Brittany, the sound engineer starts to warm up with the notion of having a stable relationship with the housekeeper whilst the housekeeper has an idea of her own. It is a study of two persons coming from two very different backgrounds, interests, and age groups. This is a movie of subtleties, where emotional hurt and pain are shown not of the harsh words they say towards one another but of unspoken words and yet, body language says it all. An open ended movie. It's definitely not everybody but nevertheless a well-made movie."
Could It Be I'm Suffering Because I Won't Give In?
SORE EYES | 07/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jacques is a fifty something Parisian sound engineer who hasn't quite gotten the hang of bachelor life. Tired of the mess in his apartment, he hires Laura as a housekeeper. Laura does her job well but brings complications to Jacques life when she looses her apartment and asks to sleep on his sofa. Jacques and Laura fall into a sexual relationship with ease. But Jacques has demons in the form of a cheating ex-wife who wants back in his life. Running away from his ghosts, Jacques flees to Brittany. Laura begs to come. She also begs Jacques to love her. Jacques remains indifferent, though tender and sweet. While in Brittany, Jacques discovers that his ex-wife slept with his best friend. Pre-occupied with his past relationship, Jacques does not notice until it's too late that Laura has slipped through his fingers and into the arms of a younger, happier man.
The Housekeeper is a subtle and sexy film, devoid of the cliches typical of older man/younger woman movies. Emotionally, it seemed like a French version of the good and underrated American movie and book, Shopgirl : A Novella/Shopgirl by Steve Martin. The older man sees the younger girl as a diversion from a stressful life-charming, but not quite a good fit. The hair isn't right. The clothes are wrong. He can treat her well, but can't imagine a future with her. And the younger woman is left asking "Why don't you love me?". In both The Housekeeper and Shop Girl the male/female characters are transformed-the girl grows up and realizes her self worth, the man realizes too late that he valued things that were unimportant and that may be the reason he's still chasing girls in his 50's. Having once loved a man ten years my senior, I could completely relate to the indifference that Jacques levels at Laura. This film felt very real, but it isn't a downer. Charming and wonderful, The Housekeeper is a keeper!"
A Man Needs a Maid.
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 04/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Leave it to the French to make a film about what I'd like to believe Neil Young had in mind when he sang "A Man Needs a Maid" on his album, Harvest. Based on a novel by Christian Oster, Claude Berri's refreshing 2002 film, The Housekeeper (Une femme de ménage), tells the subtle story of a sexy young woman, Laura (émilie Dequenne), who works as a housekeeper for a lonely, balding, middle-aged Parisian sound engineer, Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri). Jacques' life is a mess. Still recovering from his recent divorce from Constance (played by French director Catherine Breillat, Anatomy of Hell; Fat Girl), Jacques hires Laura to clear his cluttered apartment, but she ends up clearing the emotional clutter from his life as well. Soon Laura is sharing Jacques's bed (in addition to making it), and eventually she is even wearing his ring, sweetly pretending to be his wife. "Do you love me," she asks pensive Jacques. When they travel to the coast of Brittany together for a vacation, Jacques is forced to confront his loneliness, which he discovers is not from the lack of love in his life, but from the consequences of his capacity to love. Berri is best known for his work on poignant films like Jean De Florette and Roman Polanski's Tess. In the end, this is not a movie celebrating a romance between an older man and a younger woman. (As Jacques learns, young lovers are not perfect lovers.) Rather, the closing shots of Jacques' face reveal that this is ultimately a story about one man's wisdom gained from life's painful lessons in love.