Fittingly, in place of a title card at the start of her 16 mm delight Maison du Bonheur, Canadian independent filmmaker Sofia Bohdanowicz offers up a shot of a welcome mat. "Maison du Bonheur" it reads, inviting us into the home and the film. The former belongs to Juliane Sellam, a charming, chatty, vivacious astrologer who has lived in the same apartment in Paris' Montmartre district for half a century. The latter is Bohdanowicz's hourlong assemblage documenting a July visiting Sellam, studying her routines, taking in her talk, marveling at the gardenias in the windows, the blooms as dazzling as the July 14 fireworks we'll see later.
The film is a portrait of a woman, 77 at the time of filming, and her home, dedicated to processes -- behold Sellam's recipe for bread for Shabbat -- and striking still life shots. Here are fruit and herbs in bowls before an open window, a breeze easing through them; here are the fashionable Sellam's pumps and heels, a collection Galapagan in abundance and variety. Sellam speaks with enthusiasm as she waters her flowers, bakes a cake, gets her nails and hair done or gives Bohdanowicz an astrological reading. She explains about how she refuses to leave the apartment without makeup, how much she loves not having had plastic surgery, how her late husband would buy her three or four pairs of shoes at a time. We see old photographs of Sellam in smashing gowns and watch her snack with her sister, both of whom must be gently told, when toasting each other for Bohdanowicz, not to look at the camera.