Prove your humanity

“Well that’s fucking sketchy,” I said to the guest I’d invited to the screening of Madame.

I repeated this sentiment to my editor in response to his frazzled, uncertain text messages about the press passes he’d organised for this new French film.

My darling editor had organised the passes days beforehand, but problems arose when I messaged him to confirm that the tickets were indeed under my name as he’d said.

Apparently, the woman who he’d arranged the tickets through, when asked about the number of tickets, said that she “believes” there are two. Problematic since I could only assume that the guest I’d invited—who shall herein be known as Baby Boomer, because she is in fact a Baby Boomer—wouldn’t be too pleased if I asked her to wait outside for two hours while I sat in warm, indoor comfort.

I decided to check online to see if Luna Leederville had any more tickets for this particular session of Madame, just in case I get to the box office with Baby Boomer only to find one ticket. But they’re already sold out online. Looks like Baby Boomer might be sitting on the curb.

“If you have any problems at the box office tell them that Rosie organised the tickets through Tony,” my editor said. Seems dodgy, but okay.

Baby Boomer and I get to the box office of the gorgeous art deco building and I tell the woman on the other side of the counter that I should have two tickets set aside under my name. Nothing. My editor’s name. Nothing. I tell her that they’re press tickets, that I’m writing a review for Grok Magazine. Nothing.

I sigh and finally say, “Rosie organised the tickets through Tony”. She finds them under Rosie’s name, says “this is probably them”, and hands them to me. Two of them! I start to worry that maybe I’ve just stolen another Rosie’s tickets. Hopefully not.

Baby Boomer and I were meant to get to Leederville with enough time for dinner, but that didn’t happen, so we get ourselves two large popcorns and two large cokes. Baby Boomer is inhaling the popcorn, takes a sip of her coke, leans in and says, “I should’ve asked for a dash of bourbon”. My eyes widen. She tells me it would taste better.

Madame begins—the film follows Maria (Rossy De Palma), a maid who is reluctantly invited to a dinner party by her employer Anne (Toni Collette). Maria is permitted to the dinner party, full of aristocrats, in order to make the count of dinner guests an even fourteen, as thirteen would, as Anne makes her quite aware, be very unlucky.

Complications arise when Maria and one of the esteemed guests become quite fond of one another and start dating—much to Anne’s objection.

Collette’s performance as the upper-class antagonist is hate-inspiring brilliance. Anne is arrogant and materialistic, and her unhealthy obsession with ruining Maria’s supposedly inappropriate newfound happiness is infuriating.

De Palma—a Spanish actress, whose past filmography has been popular in France— portrays Maria beautifully, her performance is starkly contrasting, but equal, to Collette’s rendition of Anne. Maria has a kind soul and a joyful sense of humour, and this will make you fall in love with her, and her adorable love affair.

While Madame is a fun and easy watch, it is not without substance. Though Madame is set in modern day France, the ridiculous, classist discrimination displayed by the upper-class characters represents the ever present, outdated ideals that are maintained by some social circles. The presentation of such societal issues in film is exceptionally important in the ongoing attempt to diminish such discrimination. Madame achieves this by enabling the audience to actively recognise invalid, classist judgement by positioning the audience to empathise with the lower-class character.

Madame is a modern day, middle aged Cinderella story; a feel-good, witty comedy with a brilliant cast of actors presenting flawless performances. Unfortunately, foreign films like this rarely find their way into larger cinemas, and don’t generally screen for long when they do.

I truly enjoyed the film; despite darling, frazzled editors, difficult to locate tickets, an aspiring-to-be-bourbon-drunk Baby Boomer, and a popcorn-induced food coma, at the end of the night, Madame was the perfect, feel-good film. So, make sure you don’t miss out; go and find out if Maria gets her happily ever after before it’s too late.


Madame is currently screening at Luna Leederville, Luna On SX and Windsor Cinema.