Madame • Movie Review The movie Madame weaves a compelling tale of love and betrayal
By Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star Thu., March 22, 2018
Madame's retrograde trappings are further weighted down by unlikable characters and an overall inability to do justice to its themes. --Rotton Tomatoes
Madame aspires to more than it delivers but the film's failure to highlight its only worthwhile character makes it feel cluttered with irrelevant and at times annoying material. --James Berardinelli
“The film mocks fairytales…Sure, all the archetypes, all the codes of fairytales are there, but my film is more realistic. Because those tales are a sort of opium, and what happens never occurs in real life. And yet that’s not negative. --Amanda Sthers
Poor people don’t have these kinds of problems.
Amanda Sthers demonstrates a sure hand throughout, in casting and plotting, delivering a compelling tale of love and betrayal.
Anne Fredericks, a member of the idle rich living with her older American husband in France, faces a quandary when her stepson shows up for an unexpected visit.
That would mean 13 people at the table for the fancy dinner about to be served and there’s an ancient superstition dating back to the Last Supper that 13 for dinner is bad luck. (It certainly was for the guest of honour.) so Anne browbeats her maid, Maria, into being a guest at the meal, which turns out to be both good and bad luck for her when a guest becomes beguiled by Maria’s unconventional charms.
Director Amanda Sthers, who also wrote the screenplay, unveils a very French comedy of manners, replete with fine food and wine, miscommunication and a fair amount of bed-hopping.
Speaking on the social subtext and moral tale embedded in the story, Sthers, the writer and director comments: “The film mocks fairytales…Sure, all the archetypes, all the codes of fairytales are there, but my film is more realistic. Because those tales are a sort of opium, and what happens never occurs in real life. And yet that’s not negative: One can take something from a dream that collapses, one can find liberty and dignity in there. Maria ends up escaping her destiny. It might not be for a dazzling future, for love or money, but she finds something even better: The capacity to live on her own terms, and to look at herself in the mirror in a fresh light.”
There are a number of subplots: Steven (Tom Hughes), the stepson, is a blocked writer who finds sudden inspiration in the maid’s exploits at dinner; patriarch Bob (Harvey Keitel) is desperate to sell a painting that may be a Caravaggio (perhaps, ironically, of the Last Supper) to fund the family’s opulent lifestyle; and Anne engages in infidelity to counter the tedium of her marriage.
But the main story revolves around Maria’s new romance with David (Michael Smiley), an art expert, and Anne’s rather brutal efforts to quash the relationship to cover up her previous subterfuge.
Toni Colletteas Anne borders on perfection in her portrayal of a woman whose wit, charm and ruthlessness provide cover for an inner emptiness. In short, she’s an absolute monster and Collette plays her brilliantly.
Rossy de Palma, a past muse of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, is similarly wonderful as Maria, a warm and vulnerable counterpart to her domineering boss.
Sthers demonstrates a sure hand throughout, in casting and plotting, delivering a compelling tale of love and betrayal.