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MADAME

SYNOPSIS: Anne (Toni Collette) and Bob (Harvey Keitel), a wealthy, well-connected American couple, move into a manor in Paris. While preparing a luxurious dinner for sophisticated international friends, Anne discovers there are only 13 guests. So, she insists her loyal maid, Maria (Rossy de Palma) presents as a mysterious Spanish noblewoman to even out the numbers. Too much wine and some playful chat lead Maria to endear herself to a dandy British artbroker Michael Smiley). Their budding romance soon has Anne chasing her maid around Paris, reinventing the truth and finally plotting to destroy this most unexpected and joyous love affair.

Review by Louise Keller:
The premise is fun and the Paris setting gorgeous, yet this would be Cinderella story with a twist prickles with contrivance. There is something that grates about the way writer director Amanda Sthers has written her characters, although nothing takes away from the splendid turn by Rossy de Palma, whose distinctive looks may be familiar to Pedro Almodovar fans (he discovered her) from films like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down (1989). De Palma plays Maria the maid, whose masquerade as Spanish aristocracy takes her out of her comfort zone in the kitchen and presents her as the main attraction. If only, it had been grounded in reality so we could believe the fairy tale.

After a nonsensical opening sequence in which Harvey Keitel and Toni Collette (playing husband and wife) are riding bicycles in a Paris street, the action centres on the plush manor house and the upcoming dinner party, for which no expense has been spared. The dinner table is set, complete with sparking crystal glasses, silver cutlery and beautiful flower displays. An unexpected extra guest who ratchets up the table numbers to 'unlucky 13' is the catalyst that prompts Anne (Collette) to recruit Maria (de Palma). When Anne warns Maria 'Don't talk, laugh, eat or drink,' we immediately know that she will do all of those things and more.

The dinner scene when Maria attracts the attention of David (Michael Smiley), a British aristocrat who clearly is bewitched by her, is a lot of fun, but as the romance progresses, nothing rings true about the Anne's behaviour - or the way Collette has been directed. Similarly, the other story strands involving adulterous relationships fall flat. 'Maybe vacuum cleaning is the new pilates' is the film's best line and whether or not the 'happy ending' that Maria loves is on the cards, is for you to discover.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

MADAME (M)
(France, 2017)

CAST: Toni Collette, Harvey Keitel, Rossy de Palma

PRODUCER: Cyril Colbeau-Justin

DIRECTOR: Amanda Sthers

SCRIPT: Amanda Sthers

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Rˇgis Blondeau

EDITOR: Nicolas Chaudeurge

MUSIC: Matthieu Gonet

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Herald Najar

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Studio Canal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 17, 2017







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