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film review

Toni Collette and Rossy de Palma in Madame.LGM CINEMA – STUDIOCANAL

Rating:

2 out of 4 stars
  • Madame
  • Opening March 23
  • Written and directed by Amanda Sthers
  • Starring Toni Collette, Harvey Keitel, Rossy de Palma
  • Classification 14A
  • 90 minutes

With Madame, there’s a little downstairs, a lot of upstairs, and no one at all is on the level.

In a Paris-set comedy of manners that is more mannered than comic, Harvey Keitel and Toni Collette (ostensibly) star as a mismatched husband and wife living aristocratically in France. He comes from money; she’s a much-younger former tennis instructor who takes to his manor as if she was born to it. Whatever love they had is now gone, and as for the onscreen compatibility of the two talented actors, I’ve seen better chemistry at a middle-school science fair.

The so-so film’s soul and saving grace is Rossy de Palma, the Picasso-esque muse of filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, who steals the show and, as the family maid, the heart of a British art dealer.

Amanda Sthers, the French novelist who wrote and directed this Gallic pastry of social fakery and mistaken identity, doesn’t bother giving the main characters much depth. Nor does she have anything important to say about classism. The message of the film is that appearances are all that matters. And I do admit the movie poster for Madame looks pretty darn good.