DVD Review: The Women on the 6th Floor

The Women on the 6th Floor DVDSTUDIO: Strand Releasing | DIRECTOR: Philippe Le Guay | CAST: Carmen Maura, Sandrine Kiberlain, Natalia Verbeke, Fabrice Luchini, Lola Dueñas
DVD RELEASE DATE: 3/13/2012 | PRICE: DVD $27.99
BONUSES: none
SPECS: NR | 104 min. | Foreign language comedy | widescreen | stereo | French and Spanish with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

 

Set in Paris, 1962, the beginning of France’s political unrest, Phillippe Le Guay’s comedy-romance film The Women on the 6th Floor glows with genuine sentiment while deftly avoiding sentimentality. An impressive feat.

The Women on the 6th Floor movie scene

Say hello to The Women on the 6th Floor.

In an exclusive apartment house, the wealthy residents employ mostly Spanish maids (who are escaping the economic deprivation and political repression of the Franco regime). These maids live in small rooms, sharing a toilet (in disrepair) on the topmost (6th) floor. Call it “Upstairs/Upperstairs.” When investment banker Jean-Louis (Fabrice Luchini, Potiche) and his socialite wife (Sandrine Kiberlain, Madamoiselle Chambon) hire Maria (Natalia Verbeke, The Method) fresh off the bus from Spain, romantic sparks fly between the master and maid and their staid lives are transformed. This is, however, no mere love triangle: Jean-Louis is attracted, as much, to the passion and fellowship he finds in that little bit of Iberia just up the stairs, a sensation that’s missing in his own home.

The acting is on the highest level. Fabrice Luchini, famous for his appearances in Eric Rohmer films (and myriad others) is one of those everyman types so dear to the French. He beautifully conveys the re-discovery of love in a man of a certain age. Sandrine Kiberlain, with her swan-like Renaissance beauty, brings humor and vulnerability to a role that could have become brittle and one-dimensional. And though not a classic leading lady, Natalia Verbeke is so open and charming she is an utterly winning love object.

Among the maids, Carmen Maura (Hemingway’s Garden of Eden), Pedro Almodovar’s erstwhile muse, is earthy and knowing as Maria’s aunt and Lola Duenas scores as a bitter Communist partisan who still visits a saint’s grave just to get a day in the country. All are fully realized individuals and treated with dignity.

Visually straightforward with quick cuts in the contemporary style, De Guay’s film moves with the fleeting rhythm– enhanced by a colorful production design–that a good comedy and requires.

 

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About David

David Leopold is an actor, writer and videographer who would take a Sherpa ride up a Tibetan mountain to see an Edwige Feuillère movie.