Les Femmes du 6e étage
NOT AVAILABLE ANYMORE TO STREAM ON NETFLIX. NOW AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX DVD. Here at FrenchFlicks, we know the French perspective. We are also aware of the American perspective. Now, thanks to Women on the 6th Floor (Les Femmes du 6e étage), directed by Philippe Le Guay, we are able to be exposed to the French haute bourgeoisie perspective on the Spanish hired help in the era of Madmen.
In a little town called Paris in 1960, a wealthy stock broker Jean-Louis, (Fabrice Luchini) and his frivolous wife Suzanne (Sandrine Kiberlain), have disagreements with their maid that ends in a resignation. The scene oozes with the resentment and under-appreciation that makes up a bigger force than any one character in the film, which, as a side note, is actually cultivated in the light-hearted way that most French romantic comedies are.
Over a routine luncheon with the ladies, Suzanne learns that the hottest trend is to go with a Spanish maid (who will even work on Sundays!)
In walks Maria, the new Spanish maid. She is played beautifully and elegantly by Natalia Verbeke. As Jean-Louis' fascination with her grows, so does his curiosity of where she lives, and who with. He slowly becomes acquainted with the group of other cooky old Spanish speaking maids hired in the building, among them Carmen Maura. Never feeling so alive, he becomes one of the chicas.
His naiveté to the woes of their world is somewhat frustrating, but in the end you can't help but be charmed at his unyielding efforts to win them over. This classic case of "Upstairs, Downstairs" comedy is socially intriguing, and of course, Fabrini Luchini brings his usual vulnerable simplicity that works delightfully within his role of power.