This light-hearted but never frivolous comedy-drama went down a treat at the French box office, where audiences were delighted by its affectionate ribbing of bourgeois mores. Set in the early 1960s, and inspired by writer-director Philippe Le Guay’s own rather posh background, it features the ever-splendid Fabrice Luchini as a stockbroker whose household is rocked by the arrival of a new Spanish housemaid (Natalia Verbeke, herself Argentinian). Distressed to discover the shabby attic living conditions which the hired help have to put up with, and inspired by their spirit and sense of community, he begins to drift apart from his brittle spouse (Sandrine Kiberlain, working wonders in a slightly thankless role) but is he ready to step even closer to a life-changing decision?
The film’s soft-grained approach means it’s always fun and frisky, yet Le Guay certainly has things to say about middle-class insularity, and Luchini twinkles adorably as only he knows how. An inviting combination. (Notes by Trevor Johnston)
The Women on the 6th Floor is released exclusively at the IFI from 13 July 2012.