Poor people don’t have these kinds of problems.

Anne Fredericks, a member of the idle rich living with her older American husband in France, faces a quandary when her stepson shows up for an unexpected visit.

That would mean 13 people at the table for the fancy dinner about to be served and there’s an ancient superstition dating back to the Last Supper that 13 for dinner is bad luck. (It certainly was for the guest of honour.)

So Anne browbeats her maid, Maria, into being a guest at the meal, which turns out to be both good and bad luck for her when a guest becomes beguiled by Maria’s unconventional charms.

Director Amanda Sthers, who also wrote the screenplay, unveils a very French comedy of manners, replete with fine food and wine, miscommunication and a fair amount of bed-hopping.

There are a number of subplots: Steven (Tom Hughes), the stepson, is a blocked writer who finds sudden inspiration in the maid’s exploits at dinner; patriarch Bob (Harvey Keitel) is desperate to sell a painting that may be a Caravaggio (perhaps, ironically, of the Last Supper) to fund the family’s opulent lifestyle; and Anne engages in infidelity to counter the tedium of her marriage.

But the main story revolves around Maria’s new romance with David (Michael Smiley), an art expert, and Anne’s rather brutal efforts to quash the relationship to cover up her previous subterfuge.

Toni Collette as Anne borders on perfection in her portrayal of a woman whose wit, charm and ruthlessness provide cover for an inner emptiness. In short, she’s an absolute monster and Collette plays her brilliantly.

Rossy de Palma, a past muse of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, is similarly wonderful as Maria, a warm and vulnerable counterpart to her domineering boss.

Sthers demonstrates a sure hand throughout, in casting and plotting, delivering a compelling tale of love and betrayal.

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