In Paris, a middle-aged sound engineer (Jean-Pierre Bacri) – gloomy, bald, reserved, but not without a certain weary café charm – hires a housekeeper after his wife leaves him. The young woman (Emilie Dequenne), sexy in a tousled, slightly damaged way, shows up at his apartment, and as she begins to sweep and wipe, with hip-hop blasting from her boom box (the engineer prefers classical and jazz), anyone who grew up on the sinister spirit of Polanski and Chabrol – indeed, anyone who saw ”Swimming Pool” – will be primed to sit back and watch as she disrupts, disturbs, and generally worms her way into her new employer’s life until she has taken it over entirely.
The Housekeeper, however, is like Chabrol reconfigured into a mildly droll midlife-crisis tease. It’s hardly a threat that the engineer’s existence gets shaken up, since he looks like the sort of bourgeois dullard who hasn’t had a spontaneous moment since the swinging ’60s. ”The Housekeeper” promises twists and turns, and delivers them, but the real twist is that each development, erotic or otherwise, is less transforming than the last. By the end, you may marvel at the film’s worldly-wise wink of maturity. You may also think, Is that all?