Cod Croissant

The Gilded Cage *** (out of five)

2e2c4bf7ceaa4712a72dd5ee136dc9a8_500x735Warning: if broad comedic acting isn’t your vibe, avoid The Gilded Cage, lest it completely put you off your Christmas ham. There are some performances in this good-natured ensemble comedy which are pitched not so much at the back row as at Pluto.

Ruben Alves’ debut feature opens with a glorious shot of Paris including the Eiffel Tower, so you know what you’re in for: a film that wants your love a little too much, and isn’t afraid to layer on the baguette porn to get it. Add to that a dash of ethnic-cute overdose and it’s all a little overwhelming if you’re at all prone to cinematic diabetes.

That said, this tale of a retirement-age Portugese couple in Paris won’t cripple your digestive system and should leave you with a warm glow, which it is very much designed to do. Maria and José (Rita Blanco and Joaquim de Almeida) are an apartment building concierge and a construction foreman famous among their employers, family and friends for being tireless, selfless and very good workers. When José inherits a vineyard in Portugal and they plan to retire and move, their employers strive to keep them with flattery, promotions, bonuses and desperation. Complications – and some degree of hilarity – ensue.

To be honest, it’s not a particularly funny movie, and it certainly isn’t social realism. But the cultural details are well observed (I saw it with a friend who lives with her Portuguese grandparents, and she listed many elements that were spot-on) and it motors along on sheer goodwill, charm and heart.

Umm... could we get a little more local colour please?
Umm… could we get a little more local colour please?

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