English Title: The Gilded Cage
Original Title: La cage dorée
Country: France, Portugal
Language: French, Portuguese
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Ruben Alves
Cinematography: André Szankowski
Editor: Nassim Gordji Tehrani
Joaquim de Almeida
Alex Alves Pereira
Debut feature from French-Portuguese actor-turned-filmmaker Ruben Alves, THE GILDED CAGE’s story originates from his own parents, who are Portuguese immigrants and have found their feet living in France.
Hailed from Portugal, Maria and José Ribeiro (Blanco and de Almeida) have been married and lived in Paris for 30 years and have two children Paula (Cabrita) and Pedro (Pereira), Maria works as a concierge of a verdant house, owned by the haughty Madame Reichert (Croisille) and José is a foreman of a construction company headed by Francis Caillaux (Giraud). After receiving an unexpected heritage in their homeland, the couple mulls over the eventuality of moving back, before they can even break the news, people in their vicinity have already got wind of it, and from Madame Reichert and her lodgers, Francis, to Maria’s own sister Lourdes (Corado), everyone has their own vested interest in keeping them stay put, with no respect that it is actually the Ribeiros who should call the shots. At the receiving end of an increased salary, a renovation of Maria’s lodge, and the tidings that their brother-in-law, Lourdes’ husband Carlos (Martins) is in severe health condition, Maria and José are mutedly nonplussed by these deterrents in disguise.
The couple’s vacillation compounds when Paula reveals that she is dating Francis’ son Charles (Gautry) and now she is expecting, after a home dinner to meet their future in-laws goes amusingly awry (Chantal Lauby single-handedly steals the limelight with her incessant infelicities as Solange, Francis’ Google-prone, benighted wife and Charles’ mother), they are fed up being a brace of soft-touches, enough of “trop bon, trop con”, however, their belatedly rebellion backfires when dissension arises between themselves, leave or stay, on screen, it only takes a fado’s time to find a satisfactory ending for everyone involved.
Basking in a twee atmosphere of feel-goodism and predictability, overlaid by a golden hue overdosing on coziness, THE GILDED CAGE plays its crowd-pleasing card straight, tentatively wades into the themes of class boundary and inferiority complex from an ethnic lineage, but every fiber of it leads us to its designated ending with duly precision sans any surprise (everyone who has watched a substantial quality of movies will have known the ropes by now), only chuckles now and then (cultural differentiation is a gold mine for jokes), and a superficial contentment that does not sit well with this reviewer’s critical yardstick.
Thanks to the unforced performances from both Blanco and de Almeida, THE GILDED CAGE retains its freewheeling pace safely to the finish line, nostalgic but also uplifting in its core, a utopian actualization of a story with its agitation, obfuscation, disappointment even elation punctiliously toned-down, all we are left to say is, family trumps everything and God bless this wonderful family!