My Father Is a Cleaning Lady

"My Father Is a Cleaning Lady" delivers a muddled combo of teen movie, father-son drama and banlieue pic.

Novelist-turned-helmer Saphia Azzeddine’s “My Father Is a Cleaning Lady” wants to be a contempo comedy of French socio-realist manners, but instead delivers a muddled combo of teen movie, father-son drama and banlieue pic that shows there’s more to the outskirts than racial strife and burnt-out cars. Francois Cluzet (“Tell No One”) plays the eponymous dad in a line of business usually reserved for female immigrants, but his simpatico perf is not enough to sustain interest in this 77-minute tale. Beyond French-language outlets, prospects look grubby.

Michel (Cluzet) is a cleaning-company employee who occasionally takes along his 14-year-old, Polo (Jeremie Duvall), to help with dusting duties in the evening. With a bedridden mom (Nanou Garcia) and ditzy blonde sister (Alison Wheeler), Polo prefers to hang out with his motley posse of buds, the banlieue equivalent of a Benetton ad. Direction is pedestrian, but the real problems are in the writing and editing; jumps in time (“two years later,” etc.) and p.o.v. shifts are arbitrary, and pic seems particularly clueless about the male problems discussed by father and embarrassed son. Other below-the-line contributions are TV-ready.

My Father Is a Cleaning Lady


  • Production: An ARP Selection release of a Berel Films, La Petite Reine, ARP, TF1 Films Prods. production, in association with Lagardere Entertainment. (International sales: Reine Sales, Paris.) Produced by Nathalie Rheims, Thomas Langmann, Michele Petin, Laurent Petin. Directed, written by Saphia Azzeddine, based on Azzeddine's novel.
  • Crew: Camera (color); Jean-Pierre Sauvaire; editor, Jennifer Auge; music, Kraked Unit; production designer, Laurent Ott; costume designer, Julia Dagany. Reviewed at Kinepolis, Longwy, France, April 19, 2011. Running time: 77 MIN.
  • With: With: Francois Cluzet, Jeremie Duvall, Nanou Garcia, Alison Wheeler, Aimen Derriachi, Jules Sitruk, Franck Keita, Barbara Probst.