Some films deliver their message with a heavy hand, loudly and
repeatedly pounding their lessons into the audience’s mind. Others,
like Claude Berri’s “The Housekeeper,” take a more subtle approach.
The audience must actively search for meaning in “The Housekeeper,”
but viewers will find this experience rewarding.
Set in France, “The Housekeeper” follows the life of Jacque
(Jean-Pierre Bacri) during a brief relationship with a young woman
named Laura (Emilie Dequenne). Jacque, having just separated with
his wife, lives a lonely, docile life in Paris. He hires Laura to
be his housekeeper and though he is initially reluctant, they begin
a passionate affair.
The above summary aside, this film is not a love story. Although
Jacque is lonely and seems to long for companionship, the affair
begins on Laura’s whim, fueled by her youthful exuberance, not his
desires. As the pair quickly progresses from friends to lovers and
finally a figurative sort of married couple, one senses the plot’s
immature, unrealistic quality. It is evident that the passion will
soon end; it is only a matter of how and when this will occur.
Perhaps the best way to describe “The Housekeeper” is that it is
a film best watched alone. It slowly and inconspicuously meanders
through Jacque’s life, but delivers interesting thoughts on love
and relationships. Take this film at face value and you will be
bored, but contemplate its message and it will waft through your
mind for some time.
Rating: 3 stars