How to Be a Good Wife (2020)

  • Comedy, History
  • 1h 48m

AVAILABLE TO WATCH IN THE U.S.: Friday, February 26 @ Noon PST → Monday, March 1 @ Noon PST
Part of our 2021 French Film Friday Series.

Join our Zoom Discussion with director MARTIN PROVOST, on Sunday, February 28 @ Noon PST.
If you purchase the film or the French Film Friday pass, you will receive the Zoom invitation. Questions about the discussion? Email kelstob@csus.edu.

East of France - Late 1960s. Paulette Van Der Beck (Juliette Binoche) runs a boarding school for girls with her husband Robert (François Berléand). Their mission? To turn their teenage pupils into the perfect housewives. Maintaining a household and stoically submitting to conjugal duty are the skills taught with fervor by Paulette, along with two other teachers: her eccentric sister-in-law Gilberte (Yolande Moreau) and a strict, chain-smoking nun, sister Marie-Thérèse (Noémie Lvovsky).

But Paulette’s certainties are shaken when she finds herself widowed and ruined. Alone and on the verge of bankruptcy, the three women must undertake tasks usually reserved for men (like driving a car or negotiating a loan), enjoying the challenges and finding empowerment in the process. And running into an old flame (Edouard Baer) never hurts. Is it the winds of change from the May 1968 revolution in Paris? What if the good wife finally became a free woman?…

The three leading ladies are hilarious and Juliette Binoche proves once again that she has a knack for comedy! Directed by Martin Provost, whose films always offer magnificent portraits of women, some of which have been favorites of Festivals past (Séraphine, SFFF 2009, The Midwife, SFFF 2017). How to Be a Good Wife is an over-the-top, joyful and empowering feminist comedy that liberates itself along with its characters, as the energy and joy of their renewal culminate into a memorable musical number!

How to Be a Good Wife is nominated for five 2021 César Awards: Best Supporting Actresses (Yolande Moreau & Noémie Lvovsky); Best Supporting Actor (Edouard Baer); Best Costumes; & Best Set Direction!

Not Rated (all audiences).

Original title: La Bonne Epouse

Reviews

A delightful comedy. Gilles Kerdreux - Ouest France

The contagious outburst of “La Bonne Epouse” cannot be reduced to its hilarious performances. If Martin Provost’s new film is so exciting, ultimately, it’s because it tells us about a (old) world that is crumbling … for the better. Ariane Allard - Positif

This excellent comedy, stylish and funny, reminds us that, for women, it was hardly better before. We have come a long way … and we will do more. Sabrina Nadjar - Femme Actuelle

The central female trio is a casting marvel. Le Parisien

Director

Martin Provost

Screenplay

Martin Provost

Screenplay

Séverine Werba

Language(s)

French

Subtitle(s)

English