30
Nov
2017
0
Madame

Madame

In ‘Madame’ Toni Colette is Ann, a high maintenance wife to Harvey Keitel’s impecunious art dealer husband. Beset by money problems, their opulent lifestyle hangs in the balance of a vital painting sale. If they can sell their rare Caravaggio, their opulent lifestyle will be saved. In order to smooth the Caravaggio sale, Ann throws a lavish dinner party to woo both the buyer and his assessor (played by Michael Smiley). However, there is a problem. With the surprise arrival of Keitel’s wastrel son from a former marriage there are now an uneven number of seats at the table. This an unacceptable situation for Madame Ann. Her solution? To disguise her maid (Rossy De Palma) as a mysterious countess with strict instructions not to talk, drink or say too much to anyone at all …

The charm of 'Madame' belongs to the twin talents of Toni Colette and Rossy De Palma…

The charm of ‘Madame’ belongs to the twin talents of Toni Colette and Rossy De Palma. Colette’s turn as a self-serving, acidic WASP is as underplayed as it is gasp inducing. Opposite her, De Palma brings the same charming approachability that she has graced the best films of Pedro Almodovar with. Vulnerable and selfish, ‘Madame’s’ attractiveness as a movie pivots these twin performances. Ably supported by Harvey Keitel in doddering American abroad mode and Michael Smiley’s smitten dupe, there is much to enjoy in ‘Madame’s’ initial build-up.

Sadly where the stitching starts to separate from the frame is the lack lustre final act. The hinted-at triumph-of-the-spirit evaporates in a series of bland resolutions, whereupon all the characters resume their original positions, tossing away any drama or interest in the story’s outcome. Sub plots are left hanging, character arcs limply trail off and the film’s entertainingly caustic critique disappoints off like a half-bitten Ferrero Rocher: all promise and no substantial delight.

Slow to start, and with glimmers of promise in the middle, “Madame’ ultimately is two acts of a half decent film, sadly robbed of any genuine conclusions or emotional pay-offs in its apology of a denouement.

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