The Women on the 6th Floor

Paris in 1960. Jean-Louis and Suzanne Joubert are no longer exactly youthful. This stockbroker and his wife live a quiet, middle-class existence in an elegant tenement building. You might even describe their lives as dull – especially since the children have been packed off to boarding school. Things are a good deal livelier on the sixth floor of their building where all the female staff live. The most recent arrivals are ‘guest workers’ from Spain: six women of different ages from Burgos. Jean-Louis finds himself increasingly drawn into their world – a world that is so different to his own. The main reason for his fascination is Concepción, a mature but still attractive Spanish woman for whom this man, who is somehow greying both outside and in, develops a quiet passion. He also develops a genuine interest in her colleagues, and this sees him popping upstairs to the sixth floor with increasing regularity in order to enjoy the refreshingly different, friendly atmosphere that prevails. But the more he learns about this different world, the more difficult it becomes for him to return to his own marital home. Naturally, Jean-Louis’ behaviour arouses his wife’s suspicion and jealousy until finally, Suzanne throws her allegedly philandering husband out of their apartment. Her husband isn’t too concerned however because it just so happens there’s a room available on the sixth floor. And it doesn’t bother Jean-Louis in the slightest that the vacant room is in fact only a larder … [Synopsis courtesy of the Berlinale]