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Maria (Rita Blanco) and José (Joaquim de Almeida) emigrated from Portugal 30 years ago. Ever since, they have lived in the modest ground floor lodgings of a chic apartment building in Paris, raising their now adult daughter and teenage son. They are universally liked around the community: Maria is the buildings concierge, always available. José, a building site foreman, is equally indispensable (though neither is aware that their son and daughter are secretly engaged). When José learns he has inherited the family winery and the couple's dream of returning to Portugal is now possible, they are elated but insecure about how to tell those around them. However, word of the big news spreads and their family, neighbours, friends and employers are scrambling behind the scenes to find ways to prevent them from leaving.

Review by Louise Keller:
A delightful clash of cultures and classes, Ruben Alves's directing debut brings a touch of Portugal to Paris, peppering his comedy of errors with endless charm and humour. The script is keenly observed and Alves makes good use of his own background, as son of Portuguese immigrants in Paris. The way the working class characters and the bourgeoisie change positions and attitudes is cleverly handled, while the ensemble cast with its immaculate comic timing, shines on every level.

In the opening scenes, the premise is clearly laid out. Maria Ribeiro (Rita Blanco) and her husband José (Joaquim de Almeida) are indispensable to their respective bosses. It is Maria's good nature that ensures the chic apartment building for which she is concierge runs smoothly. Nothing is too much trouble and everyone takes advantage of her. The same goes for José, who is as eager to please as his down to earth wife. The catalyst for change is the news of an inheritance but there is a catch: they have to return to Portugal.

The fun and games begin when word gets out before Maria and José have told anyone of their intention to resign from their respective jobs. When their employers and residents hear the whispers, their behaviour immediately changes, hoping to make Maria and José's lives so rosy, they will change their minds. The shift provides hilarious scenarios which include pay rises, gifts and other perks.

The scene in which they are invited to enjoy extravagant, luxury accommodation in a grand chateau is classic (and nicely underplayed), the piece de resistance being the moment after the room service butler has delivered the meal with its silver cloche and Maria matter-of-factly replaces it with her Portuguese cod home cooking, brought practically in a Tupperware container. I chuckled when Maria demonstrates and tells the nonplussed window cleaner who has been gifted to her, her special tricks for a perfect result. The role reversals of employers and employees brings laugh out loud moments.

The script also cleverly includes their two Paris-born grown up children Paula (Barbara Cabrita) and Pedro (Alex Alves Pereira); Paula's romance with the boss's son is another trigger for comic misunderstandings and class differentiation. Director Alves appears in the film as Miguel, Paula's ex, providing another wedge in the character play. The film's success lies in its clever, funny script and beautifully judged performances by a Portuguese and French cast who bring the story and its humour to life in an authentic way.

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(France, 2013)

La cage dorée

CAST: Rita Blanco, Joaquim de Almeida, Roland Graud, Chantal Lauby, Barbara Cabrita, Lannick Gautry, Maria Vieira, Jaqueline Corado, Jean-Pierre Martins, Alex Alves Pereira, Sergio Da Silva

PRODUCER: Danièle Delorme, Laetitia Galitzine, Hugo Gélin

DIRECTOR: Ruben Alves

SCRIPT: Ruben Alves, Hugo Gélin, Jean André Yerles


EDITOR: Nassim Gordji Tehrani


RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 12, 2013

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