Balthazar Balsan, a renowned author, has everything to make him happy: success, money, fame. Yet he is incapable of being. From all the images of happiness he has collected since forever, none can satisfy or fulfill him. He is depressed.
In contrast, there is Odette Toulemonde. A shop assistant in a Charleroi supermarket, she is a widow singly bringing up her two difficult teenage kids, having to clean houses to make ends meet; she enjoys constant daily happiness.
Odette believes she owes the writer this joie de vivre that occasionally pushes her over the moon. She will try to give it back to him when, following a string of circumstances, he takes shelter at her place.
100' - 35mm - Color - Dolby SR
Catherine Frot - Odette Toulemonde
Albert Dupontel - Balthazar
Rudy Fabrice - Murgia
Bel Ombre Films - Gaspard de Chavagnac
Pathé Renn Production
TF1 Films Production
Les Films de l'Etang
la RTBF (Télévision belge)
Nominated for Best Actress Award - Catherine Frot
(...) this unconventional love story marks the successful passage of Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt from writing to directing.
(...) a naive and sincere fable about happiness.
A tangled and seductive fantasy carried at arm's length by a facetious Catherine Frot, who openly displays her desire to seduce housewives for more than forty years.
Odette Toulemende has an undeniable charm. This is owed mainly to the interpreters but also to the quality of the dialogues and some nice staging ideas.
Within a decade, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt has become one of the most read and acted French-language authors in the world.
Born in 1960, he attended the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure where he was awarded a doctorate in Philosophy and the top French teaching qualification. Schmitt first made a name for himself in the theatre with The Visitor, a play that posits a meeting between Freud and – possibly – God; the work soon became a classic and is now part of international repertoire. Further successes quickly followed, including Enigma Variations, The Libertine, Between Worlds, Partners in Crime, My Gospels and Sentimental Tectonics. Acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, his plays have won several Molières and the French Academy’s ‘Grand Prix du Théâtre’. His books have been translated into 43 languages, and more than 50 countries regularly perform his plays.
More recently, the four novellas that make up his Cycle de l’Invisible, a series of tales dealing with childhood and spirituality, have met with huge success both on stage and in the bookshops. These are Milarepa, Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran, Oscar and the Lady in Pink, Noah’s Child and "Le sumo qui ne pouvait pas grossir". Much of his literary career has been devoted to writing novels. An early novel, The Sect of the Egoists, was followed by novels of light, The Gospel According to Pilate, and shadows, The Alternative Hypothesis. Since then he has written When I was a Work of Art, a whimsical and contemporary version of the Faustus myth and My Life with Mozart, a strikingly original compilation of private correspondence with the Austrian composer. Two collections of short stories followed: Odette Toulemonde and other stories, eight tales about women in search of happiness inspired by his first film, and The Dreamer of Ostend, a wonderful tribute to the power of the imagination. In 2010 his third book of short stories, Concerto in Memory of an Angel, was awarded the prestigious Prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle (short story). Meanwhile, Ulysses from Bagdad, his latest novel, is a picaresque saga for our time that questions the human condition.
Encouraged by the international success of his first film Odette Toulemonde, he has adapted Oscar and the Lady in Pink for the screen, to reach cinemas in late 2009. A keen music-lover, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt has also translated into French The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni from the original Italian. His fertile imagination continues to open new doors and cast unusual reflections. Odette Toulemonde, the first motion picture he wrote and directed has been running on European screens in 2007.