The Gilded Cage *** (out of five)
Warning: 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.