Grandma Paulette makes a stand by becoming a drug dealer

After The Origin of the World in 2001, Jérôme Enrico, son of director Robert Enrico (The Old Gun), moves on to Paulette, a social comedy about elderly people becoming drug traffickers in order to solve their social and financial insecurity.

Written by Enrico himself, along with Bianca Olsen, Laurie Aubanel and Cyril Rambour, the film is based on a true story. It centres on Paulette, a widow at her wit’s end - embittered, racist and tight-fisted - who lives in a city surrounded by traffickers and petty criminals. Her day usually consists of gathering unsold produce from the market, of playing (with utter perfection) the role of cantankerous mother-in-law/grandmother to her son-in-law - whose only ‘flaw’ is being black - and mixed-race grandson, and of playing cards with friends while deriding any men who make the mistake of showing any interest in her.

One day, during a high-speed chase between crooks and the police, she happens to come across a lump of hashish and sees it as a sign of fate. Paulette starts dealing in order to support herself. The dealing takes off, but the small-time criminals become jealous of her business acumen. She plans to stop her illegal activities, until the day she invites three friends to tea and inadvertently puts cannabis in the dessert. The ‘space cake’ certainly takes effect...

So Paulette sets off on the path of drug dealing once more, but she is also on the path of transformation. The director explains: “Paulette is a dropout who is part of quite a distinct social group. She changes, both physically and morally, as little by little she rediscovers her dignity. (…) Paulette is not a film about cannabis, it’s a film about the insecurity and the loneliness of getting old… but most of all it’s a comedy!"

Alongside the New Wave’s accomplished and much missed muse, Bernadette Lafont, who passed away in 2013 (her leading roles in Paulette and Attila Marcel - her two final films - can be seen on the 1st of September) are Dominique Lavanant, Françoise Bertin (who passed away in 2014) and Spain’s Carmen Maura (The Women on the 6th Floor). They play shrewd, resourceful and endearing grandmothers who succeed in overcoming their insecurity thanks to some surprising solutions right up to the very last scene.

After an unexpected success at the French box-office (attracting 1.02 million admissions in 2013), Paulette and her drug dealing ways will be available on Video on Demand on September 1 in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Ireland and Turkey. The film is part of the collection of nine French Comedies.


14 September 2015, by Cineuropa