Vincent is about to become a father. At a meeting with childhood friends he announces the name for his future son. The scandalous name ignites a discussion which surfaces unpleasant matters from the past of the group.
Alexandre de La Patellière,
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Paris, in the early 1960s. Jean-Louis Joubert is a serious but uptight stockbroker, married to Suzanne, a starchy class-conscious woman and father of two arrogant teenage boys, currently in a boarding school. The affluent man lives a steady yet boring life. At least until, due to fortuitous circumstances, Maria, the charming new maid at the service of Jean-Louis' family, makes him discover the servants' quarter on the sixth floor of the luxury building he owns and lives in. There live a crowd of lively Spanish maids who will help Jean-Louis to open to a new civilization and a new approach of life. In their company - and more precisely in the company of beautiful Maria - Jean-Louis will gradually become another man, a better man. Written by
Philippe Le Guay took inspiration from his own childhood. His father was a stockbroker like Jean-Louis Joubert in the film and he himself had a Spanish maid. See more »
In the street, most (if not all) men wear hats, caps or Basque berets. In France, most men stopped wearing headgear in the 1950s (in cities at least). By 1960, the vast majority of men were hatless. See more »
The nice thing about "The Women on the 6th Floor" is that it stops itself just short of being an important film with a big statement. I can't help but think of it as a lighter cousin to "The Help"; while "The Help" shoved its self-righteous social consciousness right into the viewer's face, this French comedy chooses to remain a silly romantic comedy and keep the social commentary as subtext. The wealthy protagonist isn't out to change world orders, and he really isn't all that progressive (like Emma Stone's character in The Help), he just wants to get into the Spanish maid's pants. That means the movie got a lot less attention (and would have even if we eliminated the element of Americans' strange refusal to read subtitles) but it's a lot more entertaining, a lot less irritating, and not any more shallow as far as social commentary goes.
It isn't quite a great film. It's very naive, very unrealistic, and French cinema buffs may point out that it's a throwback to films made over half a century ago. The Spanish characters are extremely stereotypical, and the romance makes less and less sense as the film goes on, most jarringly in the incredibly silly, entirely unconvincing, saccharine ending, which almost ruined the whole thing for me. Nevertheless, it's funny and enjoyable throughout, Fabrice Luchini is superb in the lead, and all the supporting characters (even the stereotypical maids) are wonderfully crafted. And interestingly, it's the ignoble motivation of the protagonist that makes him much more compelling than Emma Stone in "The Help"; as unrealistic as the story is, the character is quite real, and makes for a delightful comedic protagonist, which in turns leads to a delightful little movie.
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