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Madame - Film Review

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by John Andrew (subscribe)
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Published August 24th 2017
Maid in heaven

In yet another film where Paris is paramount, doors are opened, Henry James style, to show us beautiful French interiors and aspirational Americans determined to showcase their sophistication.

Maria (Rossy de Palma) is the maid in Anne (Toni Collette's) household. Anne believes herself to be liberated from prejudice because she votes democrat, but the movie makes it clear that well-heeled Americans are as determined as the bourgeoisie to retain the privileges of their class.

When Anne's step-son turns up just before a dinner party designed to impress, she simply cannot accept the thought of having thirteen people at the table. Maria is persuaded, very reluctantly, to pretend to be an incognito Spanish princess and in that role attracts the roving eye of David, a rich art-broker with a Belfast accent. She is delighted to be wooed and both enjoy the other's company.

Anne finds herself furious and jealous of Maria's obvious glow, but Anne's husband needs David's skills to sell a somewhat dodgy artwork, and insists that Anne rocks no boats. Although Toni Collette may well have been the reason for this movie's Australia release, it is de Palma (and the superb Parisian cinematography) who steals the show. We really want things to work out for her, despite the road-blocks Anne is planning.

And do they? That, dear reader, would be telling. Let's just say that the ending is by no means textbook Cinderella. This is a thoroughly entertaining movie, with more than a little social commentary on the allegedly classless American society.

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