The Housekeeper Claude Berri

The Housekeeper Claude Berri
After his 15-year relationship disintegrates, Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri) falls into a depressive funk, which is evidenced by the filth accumulating in his posh Parisian apartment. He hires a local girl, Laura (Emilie Dequenne), to keep the place tidy. She comes on to him. They sleep together. She moves in. In The Housekeeper, it's loneliness as much as any real attraction that draws these two characters together. Director Claude Berri pushes this theme further by introducing supporting characters who also suffer from varying degrees of loneliness. And since the story is told mostly from Jacques' point of view, it begins to seem as if loneliness is the only characteristic he is able to see in another person: His friend Ralph (Jacques Frantz) retreats to the insane obsessions of his chicken farm, and another friend, Clair (Brigitte Catillon), mopes around Paris, looking wounded and lost. In a story brimming with lonely characters, what becomes important is how each of them deals with their sadness. And it's a credit to Berri's direction and the actors involved that watching this doesn't become tiresome. The themes of loneliness, despite their prevalence, are not explicit — this feels like a love story, not a film about being alone. Berri is able to achieve this by focusing on his characters' differences, which takes our attention away from what they have in common. Jacques sleeps with earplugs and listens to refined classical music. Laura, on the other hand, takes raw pleasure in blasting (French) hip-hop. It's a minor quibble between them, but it's indicative of everything that makes them incompatible. Holding it all together are some understated moments of colour and composition, courtesy of cinematographer Eric Gautier. A beautifully photographed sequence along the French Rivera puts an open-ended cap on the film, which is in French with English subtitles. (Mongrel Media)