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The Women on the 6th Floor
There exists in European cinema a particular kind of feel good film that you rarely find elsewhere. Films where the strings of tension are never pulled uncomfortably tight, and which serve to remind us all to seize the day.
Philippe Le Guay's The Women on the 6th Floor is just such a film.
Set against the backdrop of 1960s Paris, the film follows Jean-Louis Joubert (Fabrice Luchini), a French investment banker whose lack lustre married and social lives have become unremarkable to the point of suffocation.
This all changes when Spanish maid Maria Gonzalez (Natalia Verbeke) is employed by the Jouberts following the departure of their long time French nanny.
Along with a host of colourful Spanish maids living in the 6th floor servants' quarters, Maria breathes life into the Jouberts' home and brings Jean-Louis back to the world of the living. Together, their journey takes them from the sterile sophistication of bourgeois Parisian high society to the vibrancy and passion of humble Spanish community.
Luchini and Verbeke are outstanding in their roles as the star crossed lovers, vexed by their past decisions and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the way of their love. Veteran actress Sandrine Kiberlain is equally brilliant in her role as Jean-Louis' insecure wife Suzanne. But the biggest kudos must be reserved for the supporting cast of Spanish women who add that essential dash of lovable eccentricity which is the heart of European comedy.
The Women on the 6th Floor is a warm, funny film; a heady brew of passion and paella which will appeal to most cinema goers. See it if you love films like Silvio Soldini's Pane e Tulipani or Aki Kaurismaki's Le Havre.
The Women on the 6th Floor will be screening at the Rialto from the 29th of March. For ticketing information and session times visit www.rialto.co.nz.
By Haley Beatson, 16 March 2012