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The Housekeeper

4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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(Nov 11, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

NTSC region code 1, 5.1 surroundsound, French soundtrack/Eng subtitles, rated r, c/r 2002

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Émilie Dequenne, Brigitte Catillon, Jacques Frantz, Axelle Abbadie
  • Directors: Claude Berri
  • Writers: Claude Berri, Christian Oster
  • Producers: Claude Berri, Nathalie Rheims, Pierre Grunstein
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: November 11, 2003
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000CBXZA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,292 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Housekeeper" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I almost gave up on this one forty minutes in. Don't you do that. The ending is superb.

Premise: working class girl gets dumped by her boyfriend and seeks work by housekeeping.

Well, that can lead to something better if you keep house for the right person.

Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri) who recently got walked out on by his wife, and who, not so incidentally looks sixty--well, fifty-five--(actually he was barely fifty when this was made, but you get the point) gets his ad for a housekeeper answered by Laura (Emilie Dequenne) who is twentysomething--a young twentysomething.

I guess there is not much else to say, and to be honest I decided I would force myself to watch the inevitable. But the director is Claude Berri who directed two of the best movies I ever saw: Manon of the Spring (1986) and Jean De Florette (1986).

And so I stayed with it. At about the fifty minute mark the movie started to get interesting. I could feel that old guy/young girl love affair was going to take an unexpected fork in the road. (As Yogi said, if you come to a fork in the road, take it. The players have no choice.) Obviously, old guy/young girl can end only one way: young girl leaves old guy for young guy. This is biology. It will be painful.

Claude Berri knows all this, and probably a lot better than I do. And so guess what?

Well, I won't tell. But you will find that the last thirty-some minutes of this sexy romantic comedy delightful, and especially the very, very clever and most satisfying ending.

Just prior to that Laura asks Jacques for his blessing. He won't give it, but she is right: he should. And then when we get the final "life is so...lifelike" grimace on Jacques's face, we can only smile.

Emilie Dequenne is delightful as the strangely wise and very natural Laura, and Jean-Pierre Bacri is winning as the old guy who knows better, but on reflection should thank his lucky stars.
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Format: DVD
You have to hand it to the French.They understand the psychology of relationships very well, if sometimes they delve too much into its analysis: The ups and downs, pains and joys, loneliness and longing,passion and distance, are all so well depicted in their films,of course with a dose of sensuality and a natural eroticism that is never gratitious.
Jean De Florette's Claude Berri directs an excellent Jean-Pierre Bacri,and a refreshingly sexy Emilie Duquenne in yet another tale about human relationships and analyzes it with enough subtely as not to make it too overbearing.
A lonely middle aged Bacri,freshly out of a relationship, hires a part time housekeeper who as his luck has it,is barely twenty years old and with an air of innocence and sexiness,a mixture enough to make any red blooded male take notice.And sure enough, Bacri who is experiencing a dull and empty existence takes notice.
Well,his spell of good luck does not end there, for as it happens,his young employee leaves her boyfriend,and as a result has no place to stay.After a slight hestitation, he agrees to her request to let her stay with him for a 'couple of days' until she finds an alternative accomodation, and other housekeeping jobs, which he tries helping her to find,(and ever the gentlemen even offers to give her his bed and sleeps on the couch).
Well, good fortune has something else in store for Bacri,for it is only a matter of time (indeed a very brief time) before Duquenne initiates sex, an offer he gladly accepts.Who said,as the old worn out cliche goes,that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach only? some good housework will not go amiss to the discerning lonely gentleman, provided of course the woman looks like Emilie Duquenne.
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The world of Claude Berri's film "The Housekeeper" (La Femme de Ménage) is a melancholy, acidic, ultra self- reflective one. It is also a romantic and comedic world that harkens back to "The Apartment" and in particular the much maligned and neglected "Two for the Seesaw"(Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine): both from the early 1960's. Despite the difference of forty odd years between them, all three of these films share a common view of the world and that is: take what you can get, latch on to it when and if you get it and if it leaves, bid it a fond, though regretful farewell.
Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a sound recording engineer (who wears ear plugs to block out the sounds of the night), still reeling from a recent divorce and Laura (Emilie Dequenne), a very young (20) woman who has come into Jacques's world, not only to clean his apartment but also to bring sex and love back into his life.
What is particularly refreshing about this film is that both Laura and Jacques are very realistic in regards to what they want from each other and fully comprehend the shortcomings and limitations of these desires. In other words they take full responsibility for their actions and that, in our current world of personal as well as national spin, is a welcome novelty.
Berri has been very astute in his choice of music also. The soundtrack is filled with middle period jazz that sounds like the 1950's and 1960's music of Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan and adds a sonic equivalent of the stalwart romantic notions of the film itself.
"The Housekeeper" ends as it begins: with a wide open and vulnerable heart and a deep concern for it's characters that looks very much like loss but on closer inspection and introspection is really a formal, respectful accommodation for the foibles of what makes us all human.
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