This is one of those French comedies which are light on the surface but have something to say underneath.
Perhaps it should be stressed that this is a combination of French and Portuguese comedy, the central characters, husband and wife, who migrated from Portugal 30 years earlier and have worked in Paris ever since, bringing up their children as Brazilians and French. The director is Portuguese and is visualising his memories and experiences.
The Gilded Cage has proven itself a box-office winner in Europe, where audiences will identify with the situations in these two diverse countries of the European Union. It travels beyond Europe quite nicely but, probably, without the strong impact that it had there.
The focus is on a middle-aged couple, very well played by Rita Blanco and Joaquin de Almeida. We see the wife jauntily walking along a street, greeting everyone, and then we find that she is the concierge in an apartment block, at the beck and call of an elderly woman whose life is governed by whims, by a Chinese resident, by a couple with twins. She loves work and does not feel imposed on though that is what has happened to her for 30 years. Her husband works for a building construction company and he, in his turn, has been imposed on by the CEO of the company. They have two children, young adults.
Then something happens which transforms their lives, offering them the freedom that they have never experienced, and the possibility of returning to Portugal. The wife’s sister, wanting to set up a Portuguese restaurant in Paris, certainly does not want her sister to go back home and fabricates a story about her very ill husband who needs all kinds of help. And the residents of the apartments certainly do not want her to go, thinking that they could not manage without her. It is the same with the boss of the company, devising ways of making it impossible for his worker to leave him.
Where there’s a will there’s a way – and the trouble started with a will. However, where there’s goodwill there is also a good way and that is how it all ends up, cheerfully and everyone together.
- Peter Malone, ACOFB
Starring Rita Blanco, Joaquim de Almeida. Directed by Ruben Alves.Rated M (Coarse language) 90 minutes.