(director/writer: François Ozon; screenwriters: Philippe Piazzo, based on the play “Mon Crime” by Georges Berr, Louis Verneuil; cinematographer: Manu Dacosse; editor: Laure Gardette; music: Philippe Rombi; cast: Nadia Tereszkiewicz (Madeleine Verdier), Rebecca Marder (Pauline Mauleon), Isabelle Huppert (Odette Chaumette), Fabrice Luchini (Le juge Gustave Rabusset), Dany Boon (Fernand Palmarede), Edouard Sulpice (Andre Bonnard), André Dussollier (M. Bonnard), Félix Lefebvre (Gilbert Raton), Jean-Christophe Bouvet (Montferrand), Franck De Lapersonne (Landlord); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Eric & Nicolas Altmayer; Scope Pictures; 2023-France-in French with English subtitles)

“A joyous reminder of those great screwball comedies from the 1930s.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Veteran French filmmaker François Ozon (“Everything Went Fine”/”Summer of 85”) directs this fast paced, lighthearted, campy, showbiz, feminist, comedy farce, in which he co-writes the clever and subversive script with Philippe Piazzo. It’s loosely based on the 1934 play “Mon Crime” by Georges Berr and Louis Verneuil. Though the theme is murder, the name of the game is comedy.

The marvelous veteran French actress, Isabelle Huppert, is a treat in a supporting role, playing a Norma Desmond-like character. Other key supporting actors include Fabrice Luchini, Dany Boon and Andre Dussllier.

The film is set in 1935, in Paris.

The aspiring actress Madeleine (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) is roommates with her best friend, an unemployed lawyer, Pauline (Rebecca Marder). The attractive pair are strapped for cash, owing 5 months back rent to their landlord (Franck De Lapersonne) for their apartment. He demands sexual favors in lieu of paying cash for the rent.

But the ladies see an out from their dire financial situation when Madeleine is accused of murdering the sleazy film producer Montferrand (Jean-Christophe Bouvet), who is found in his villa in the Paris suburb of Neuilly, with a bullet in his skull. The girls come up with a get-rich-quick scheme while the prime suspect, Madeleine, stands trial for the murder she falsely confesses to and Pauline will act as Madeleine’s lawyer.

We know Madeleine is not the murderer, but she was offered only a bit part in a play and getting the part depends on giving sexual favors to the slimy producer Montferrand. This makes her a suspect. Running away from him and his piggish offer, she bumps into a petite redhead (probably the killer).

Madeleine has a lazy, in debt, idler boyfriend, André (Édouard Sulpice), a scion to a tire dynasty, whose wealthy father (Andre Dussllier) refuses to help him and threatens to cut his inheritance off.
The film takes the form of a screwball comedy, as its courtroom nonsense is presided over by the hammy cartoonish judge (Gustave Rabusset).nd

Huppert plays the character Odette, a faded former film star, who kills her cameo by making her grand entrance a funny spectacle.

The sympathetic girls in a witty way try to beat the oppressive legal system and the chauvinist men they encounter by taking the stand to make their feminist and money demands.

The only positive male figure is Fernand (Danny Boon). He’s the generous wealthy architect who arrives late in the film in a deux ex machina moment.

The film is a joyous reminder of those great screwball comedies from the 1930s.