Wanneroo Times - - Lifestyle -

ALL is not what it seems in the lives of a rich Amer­i­can cou­ple and their maid af­ter one harm­less din­ner party trig­gers a domino ef­fect of events and re­la­tion­ships that bring some not-so-like­able traits to light.

Uptight, hoity-toity so­cialite Anne (Toni Col­lette) is putting on a din­ner party in her swanky Paris man­sion for some dis­tin­guished in­ter­na­tional guests, but the last­minute unan­nounced ar­rival of her step­son throws the seat­ing plan out of whack and she has a tizzy about it.

To avoid an un­lucky 13 peo­ple at the ta­ble she re­cruits her Span­ish plain Jane head maid Maria (Rossy de Palma) to even out the num­bers and pose as a friend, but with strict in­struc­tions. Maria is not to talk too much, laugh too much or smile too much; sim­ply be present but for­get­table.

But Maria man­ages to charm a Bri­tish art-bro­ker (Michael Smi­ley) who is seated next to her and ro­mance blos­soms – much to Anne’s anger and frus­tra­tion.

There are plenty of pleas­ant laughs to be had in this mis­taken iden­tity/fish out of wa­ter/ Cin­derella tale, which be­gins in a way that Hol­ly­wood could not have done bet­ter.

But writer/direc­tor Amanda Sthers likes to dig a lit­tle deeper, peel­ing back the lay­ers of her char­ac­ters to show that this is no Hol­ly­wood fairy­tale.

Col­lette’s wicked so­cialite be­gins as fairly one note, but we are even­tu­ally made privy more and more about what makes her tick – and it is of­ten heart­break­ing.

Madame will at first tickle the funny bone, then slowly re­veal that not every­one is al­ways like­able, fo­cussing on hu­man na­ture rather than gags.

Rossy de Palma and Toni Col­lette in Madame.

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