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The Women on the 6th Floor (Les femmes du 6eme etage) Review

The Women on the 6th Floor (Les femmes du 6eme etage) Review

The pleasing sounds of Carmen Maura's whispery Castilian lisp open this 1962-set film about the friendship between a Parisian captain of industry and a group of Spanish maids. But all the words that follow assault the ear in this unnecessary rehashing of the earthy virtues of low-paid laborers versus the stiffness of the bourgeoisie. Third-generation stockbroker Jean-Louis (a straining Fabrice Luchini), husband of brittle, insecure provincial Suzanne (Sandrine Kiberlain, ennobling an impossible role) and father of two boarding-school brats, suddenly transforms into an altruist, concerned with the inferior plumbing and other hardships endured by the half-dozen Spanish domestics, refugees from Franco's regime, who live above him. Among the sextet is recent arrival María (Natalia Verbeke), who stirs Jean-Louis, her new employer, with both her stories of working 15 hours a day as a teenager at a tobacco factory and her ass, glimpsed in the shower. Freed from French fussiness, Jean-Louis loses himself in Iberian pleasures: paella, Malaga, coplas. "Those up there are alive; down here we're dead," Suzanne remarks to two ladies who lunch as her husband and his pals dance the flamenco. Director Philippe Le Guay, who co-wrote the script with Jérôme Tonnerre, has given us a new stock character: the Magical Ibero.