The 2011 French comedy “Potiche” from Music Box Films was directed by François Ozon based on a 1980 stage play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy. Starring: Gerard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve, Ludivine Sagnier, Fabrice Luchini, Jérémie Renier and Judith Godrèche.
A look back at how life was in the year 1977 for one family living in the French Bourgeois province. Robert Pujol (Fabrice Luchini) is a wealthy, uncompromising owner of a successful umbrella factory and runs his home in much the same manner. He firmly believes that the woman’s place is in the home; he patronizes Suzanne (Catherine Deneuve) his wife, and totally out of touch with his two grown children (Jérémie Renier and Judith Godrèche.) Suzanne bears all of her husbands rudeness with a smile, but underneath it all, she is totally frustrated with the situation.
As fate would have it, the factory workers become totally frustrated with Robert’s management style as well and launch a work stoppage. But Robert feels it’s below his dignity to negotiate with the workers and money is being lost every minute the strike continues. The mayor of the town Maurice Babin (Gerard Depardieu) suggests that Robert to meet with the workers and try to resolve the dispute. But after things turn ugly during the meeting when Robert demands that they return to work, the stress of the situation causes him to suffer a heart attack and is hospitalized. As a result, Suzanne takes over the reins of running the factory.
Of course, no one believes that Suzanne will be able to manage things because her identity as a “Trophy Wife” is so well established. But with the help of Maurice, not only does she meet with the workers, but to everyone’s surprise, proves to be a woman of action, bringing an end to the strike. Using a warm, human touch, Suzanne brings a never before seen fair management style to the factory, causing the workers to completely disown Robert as their leader.
Maurice and Suzanne continue to work together to improve the working conditions in the factory, but there was a time when they were more than just friends. With Robert away, romantic sparks begin the possiblity that they can be together at last.
When Robert returns from hospital, much to his dismay the tables have turned and now he is the trophy husband who must now contend with the fact that not only is his wife in charge of the business, she is running the company more effectively and profitably than he was able to do.