The Women on the 6th Floor

The Women on the 6th Floor is a charming French romantic comedy about Spanish maids in 1960s Paris. During the Franco era dictatorship in Spain, Spanish women found work in Paris, France where living and working conditions were much better, even for maids.

The Film is set mostly inside a French style luxury apartment building where the cramped attic floor is used to house maids who were hired by the tenants of the building to clean their apartments while they are at work. These maids often worked for the same family for many years raising their children and becoming part of the family themselves.

We are treated to a wonderful nostalgic and often funny look at the maid’s daily routine and their relationship with the family and the other maids living and working in the building. Because of their tight living arrangement and because they share a common culture in an alien environment, the maids form a close bond and help each other out when needed.

The movie focuses on the middle aged French landlord Jean-Louis Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) the owner of one of these apartment blocks who also lives in the building with his wife Suzanne (Sandrine Kiberlain) and leads a routine conservative life working in the family business as a stock broker for the wealthy.  When his French maid quits one day over disputes with his new class conscious young wife, Suzanne decides to hire a Spanish maid when her friends convince her that they are all the rage in Paris now.

The movie revels in showing us the comic clashes between the reserved French upper class and the lively passionate Spanish maids. The maids from Spain are often from the poor Spanish country side and found themselves working in unimagined luxury where they dream of someday achieving a better lifestyle for themselves back in Spain or marrying handsome Frenchman.

When the landlord Jean-Louis meets his new young and beautiful Spanish maid Maria (Natalia Verbeke) he becomes instantly and quite genuinely attracted to her and decides to learn more about this new mysterious culture. What he discovers is a whole new world he had never known existed living right above him; a whole floor of women from Spain with curious and intriguing customs and history.

As he becomes more infatuated with Maria, he decides to help the women living upstairs by improving their living conditions while learning more about the maids' lives and their problems. The women in turn fawn over him in gratitude, treating him with the greatest respect and enthusiasm and including him in their secret lives.

The boisterous ensemble performances by the maids are a pleasure to watch as they interact with the French and each other at the local market while teaching Maria the ways of the French culture. And veteran actor Fabrice Luchini is priceless as Jean-Louis who finds a renewed vigor for life when using his influence as a broker to help the women as he becomes entangled in their personal lives.

The story takes some hilarious twists and turns that will make you laugh and sigh with pleasure. If you have ever been enchanted by a new culture through its charmingly beautiful women, you will fully identify with and appreciate this delightful romantic film. 

JP

3 comments:

Sandra McLeod Humphrey said...

I'd never heard of this one, but it sounds like another one for my list. Thanks for expanding my list of films I would probably have never seen were it not for your reviews!

Dilip said...

A brilliant review and interesting analysis. My compliments for a educative and enriching blog.

Kind regards!

Gabi Barbar√° said...

I never heard of this movie before! Gonna see it for sure!! :)

xoxo from Brazil
Gabi Barbar√°
http://barbaridadesdabarbarah.blogspot.com