The Chambermaid on the Titanic, or La femme du chambre du Titanic
Posted by Jen: 2.5 stars
Director: Bigas Luna
Cast: Olivier Martinez, Romane Bohringer, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon
This film answers the age old question on how to make a movie about the Titanic when you have pennies for a budget. The answer: make it about a specific passenger on it and focus on him/her instead of the boat. In a way it’s kind of clever, having only one scene take place on the legendary ocean liner (and mostly beneath a table covered in linen so you can’t see anything), but it’s also kind of misleading.
This is a French film, and while I’m not opposed to subtitles, there were many times when I wanted to turn the movie off because it didn’t make sense to me. For example, the main character, Horty, wins a company race and wins one ticket to go to England to watch the Titanic sail. What kind of a prize is that? Though only giving him one ticket was part of an elaborate plan for the boss to sleep with Horty’s wife, which we never really know if it actually happened or not, I can’t see how someone would be impressed with that. Then, when Horty gets to the hotel, the chambermaid, Marie, asks to share a room with him because they’re both French, which makes him good people, and she doesn’t have money for a room, which makes sense that she would try to stay at the most expensive hotel in the area. Later revealed that she is a prostitute or something, which is weird that she would go from that to a respectable job, which accommodates her earlier behavior, but leads to another hole in the plot. They barely talk to each other, they go right to sleep, and in the morning, Marie’s gone.
What the movie is really about is the story Horty tells to his friends back home about this uneventful night. He tells a story of such passionate love that everyone believes him, including his wife, and in the process he begins loving this Marie that he’s created. The bar where he tells this story becomes so crowded with people that he is eventually taken on the road to spread his stories (lies) about Marie, and how the ocean took her away from him. He tells this story to sold out crowds, first on a little outdoor stage, then inside theatres.
Overall, I can’t say that I either hated it or was moved by it in any way. It’s somewhat of a forgettable movie, and the Titanic – the most dramatic part – is merely a byline mentioned almost in passing, portrayed by a picture thrown on a green screen. I feel like it was pretty blah, for lack of a better word, but all is not lost. It could have been good if a few things were cleared up, and if something significant happened to Horty on his journey from barroom to a National stage. But alas, this is the movie that we have.