The Women on the 6th Floor
Dir. Philippe Le Guay
Starring Fabrice Luchini, Sandrine Kiberlain and Natalia Verbeke
Rounding out the trifecta of films at this year’s Fransaskois Film Festival at the Regina Public Library was the 2010 feature The Women on the 6th Floor.
The film was co-written and directed by famed French director Philippe Le Guay. It stars Fabrice Luchini and Sandrine Kiberlain as Mr. And Mrs. Jean-Louis Joubert. Jean-Louis is a starchy stockbroker and the wife of an equally starchy socialite wife. However, with the help of his family’s new maid, Jean-Louis discovers the wonders contained in his own luxury tower. He gains a new perspective on life and civilization and ultimately becomes a more likeable protagonist.
The Women on the 6th Floor was screened out of competition at 2011’s Berlinale Film Festival. Some critics wrote that Luchini and Kiberlain were two of France’s best stars. Others wrote that the screenplay was lazy and the dialogue choices were poor. Both camps of critics have good points. There is no denying that Luchini and Kiberlain are wonderful actors, however, they are working within the confines of a tired and clichéd narrative structure. Any time you have brilliant acting stifled by poor writing, the overall production will always suffer. It is a shame because the aforementioned actors are truly wonderful to watch.
So, that’s the film in a nutshell. The Women on the 6th Floor has moments of brilliance that can only be glimpsed briefly through gooey layers of caked- on tripe. It is most unfortunate that Luchini and Kimberlain aren’t given more freedom to fully explore their characters. A heavier focus on their dynamic might have saved the film. As it stands, Le Guay’s ambitious production crumbles under the weight of tedium.