The French word potiche means a vase or vessel, often gaudily decorated and mostly of ornamental use. Until François Ozon's latest film, I wasn't aware of the word's derogatory meaning, to describe a woman with no real power or purpose, but after this film's success, I suspect the vernacular will have to alter to accommodate the irony of Catherine Deneuve's fine comic performance in the titular role.
You could say Luis Buñuel cast Deneuve as some kind of "potiche" as Séverine in Belle de Jour in 1967 and it has been impossible ever since for the male viewer to look at this prolific actress as anything other than a symbol of female potency, even as a sort of erotic threat. Ozon is surely trading on this iconography for a film that is a blend of boulevard farce,
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