Friday, August 05, 2016

French movie Friday: Paulette

This little-known 2012 comedy is a somewhat darkly humorous tale of second chances and redemption, told through the changed life of the eponymous Paulette. She is elderly, almost-bankrupt, widowed, and desperately clinging on to her small apartment in the shady outskirts of Paris. She's also casually mean and breathtakingly racist - in a way that can quite accurately be described as "Trump-esque" these days. (Immigrants are to be treated poorly and blamed for the misfortunes of the motherland.)

Anyhow, Paulette did once upon a time have a successful life running a restaurant with her long-dead husband. The restaurant was 'taken over' by certain of the immigrants because of the excessive drinking of this spouse, Francis -  more blame-gaming by Paulette there. Still, she does take advantage of her canny business skills when, by chance, she gets in the middle of a drug deal gone wrong. Paulette grabs the opportunity due to pride and desperation, and this is where you start to empathize with her just a tiny bit even though she is such a resounding meanie. When life gives her lemons, she grabs them and er...turns them into cannabis.

Thus do her fortunes change. And as she makes more and more money because of her strangely scrupulous dealings with the local drug-lords, she sheds more and more of her meanness. The script does not look at these changes through a rosy lens, though; the proceedings are realistic in that they do portray real emotion and people with their flaws laid bare. The drug-lords, though, were hilarious in a sort of block-headed, fumbling way when it came to dealing with "junkie grandma."

Soon her girlfriends are roped into the dealing too, and they meet with thumping success. Paulette's cop son-in-law meanwhile (much disparaged for his blackness) has no clue that his ma-in-law is a secret drug-dealer star. Ultimately though, Paulette and the gang get their just desserts.

But she does have one more trick up her sleeve. The ending was a bit of a surprise, and a cheeky one at that; another example of Paulette's ability to take an opportunity and run with it.

Funny in a sort of cynical way (Paulette's black Catholic priest is particularly so), Paulette is peppered with wry hope and a proclivity for redemption and forgiveness. I did enjoy it though the last third of the movie dragged just a wee bit.

Overall rating: 6.5/10
Director: Jerome Enrico

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