Owen Gleiberman
August 13, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Housekeeper

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
90 minutes
Limited Release Date
07/11/03
performer
Jean-Pierre Bacri, Emilie Dequenne, Catherine Breillat, Brigitte Catillon
director
Claude Berri
distributor
Palm
author
Claude Berri
genre
Drama, Foreign Language

We gave it a B-

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?

You May Like

Comments

EDIT POST