Review: Toni Colette and Rossy de Palma are all the reasons you need to see Paris-set comedy ‘Madame’
Although “Madame” ultimately lands in the plus column, one wishes this stylish comedy of manners — or lack thereof — had a better idea of where it was going and how to get there. Still, director Amanda Sthers, who co-wrote with Matthew Robbins, offers up some wicked fun and deft social commentary.
This Paris-set film’s chief assets, though, are its leading ladies: Toni Collette, playing gloriously against type as Anne Fredericks, a glamorous narcissist married to wealthy businessman Bob (Harvey Keitel); and Rossy de Palma (the Almodóvar regular with the Modigliani face), nimble and touching as the Fredericks’ longtime maid, Maria, who unexpectedly falls for an affluent British art dealer (Michael Smiley) as the result of a (fairly silly) dinner party scheme cooked up by Anne.
Maria’s class-crossing romance so infuriates the controlling Anne that it irrevocably pits her against the sympathetic Maria. But this conflict, though watchable and affecting, isn’t explored deeply or persuasively enough to power the rest of the film.
Story strands involving Bob’s rakish novelist son (Tom Hughes) from a previous marriage, Anne’s and Bob’s wandering eyes, and the Fredericks’ supposed money troubles also needed a closer look, as did the couple’s own personal histories.
But as a chance to watch Collette and De Palma at work, soak up some lovely Paris locales and root for a working-class underdog, “Madame” proves a breezy enough diversion.
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD
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