The Housekeeper

  • 2002
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama, Romance

After reviving his once-foundering career with such large-scale, literary costume dramas as JEAN DE FLORETTE, MANON OF THE SPRING and GERMINAL, Claude Berri returns to the kind of intimate, character-driven dramas he began making in the late 1960s. Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a engineer at a recording studio who's still reeling from the break-up of his...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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After reviving his once-foundering career with such large-scale, literary costume dramas as JEAN DE FLORETTE, MANON OF THE SPRING and GERMINAL, Claude Berri returns to the kind of intimate, character-driven dramas he began making in the late 1960s. Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a engineer at a recording studio who's still reeling from the break-up of his marriage five months earlier. His wife, Constance (Catherine Breillat), has left him for another man, and while Jacques seems to be doing okay on the outside, the state of his apartment tells a different story. The sink is filled with dirty dishes, the countertops are littered with empty pizza boxes and rotting food, and the floor is covered with unwashed laundry; left on his own, it's obvious Jacques needs a housekeeper. He answers an ad posted on the bulletin board in his local bakery by a woman named Laura, and arranges an interview at a nearby café. Laura (Emilie Dequenne) turns out to be a pretty young woman with a brilliant, flashing smile and two-tone hair, and even though she's barely out of her teens and admits she has no real housekeeping experience, Jacques gives her the job. Laura puts his apartment in order, but after a few weeks, she asks Jacques for a big favor. She's just broken up with her live-in boyfriend and needs a place to stay; could she bunk with Jacques for a few days? Jacques reluctantly agrees, insisting that she take the bedroom while he sleeps on the couch, and even though Jacques can't stand the hip-hop she listens to or the trashy TV shows she watches, an intimacy soon develops between them. Against Jacques better judgment, the inevitable seduction occurs — surprisingly, it's Laura who seduces Jacques — and despite Jacques claims that they couldn't possibly be in love, his heart knows otherwise. As two people from completely different places in their lives who nevertheless find each other through shared heartbreak, Dequenne and Bacri are marvelous together. It may be an old story, but Berri draws fresh poignancy from this December-May romance by identifying so empathetically with Jacques. He knows there's no fool like an old fool, but you can hardly blame him when Jacques finally takes the plunge. (In Frech, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: After reviving his once-foundering career with such large-scale, literary costume dramas as JEAN DE FLORETTE, MANON OF THE SPRING and GERMINAL, Claude Berri returns to the kind of intimate, character-driven dramas he began making in the late 1960s. Jacques… (more)

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