Posts Tagged ‘” Catherine Deneuve’

Catherine Deneuve

“THE TRUTH” My rating: B

106 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

The character played by Catherine Deneuve in “The Truth” is reprehensible.

Except that she’s played by Catherine Deneuve, which means her reprehensibleness is actually kind of awesome.

In the latest from  Hirokazu Koreeda (a Japanese director making a French movie…talk about cross-cultural pollination) Deneuve plays Fabienne Dangeville, a great beauty of the French cinema who, now well ensconced in her 70s, has just published a memoir called “La Verite” (“the Truth”).

Fabienne has been a star for so long, has spent so much of her life being fawned over, that she has an iron-clad if overinflated sense of her own wonderfulness.  She expects people to cater to her every whim, and has a wickedly sharp tongue with which she lacerates friend and foe alike.

Imagine a Maggie Smith character coupled with world-class sex appeal.

Koreeda’s screenplay follows Fabienne on two fronts.  Professionally she’s taken a supporting role on a low-budget science fiction film starring young actress Manon Lenoir (Manon Clavel), who’s being touted as the next Fabienne Dangeville. You can imagine Fabienne’s dim view of that assertion.

On a personal level, Fabienne is dealing with a visit from her semi-estranged daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche), a New York-based screenwriter who’s returned to her childhood home with her actor husband Hank (Ethan Hawke) and their precocious bilingual daughter Charlotte (Clementine Grenier).

When little Charlotte exclaims that Grandma’s house looks like a castle, Lumir glumly notes, “Yes, and there’s a prison just behind it.”  True.  The family manse abuts a maximum security facility, and it’s pretty obvious that in Lumir’s mind the two properties are interchangeable.


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Catherine Deneuve, Catharine Frot

“THE MIDWIFE” My rating: B 

116 minutes | No MPAA rating

Two of France’s greatest actresses square off for the first time in “The Midwife,” delivering a quiet drama that engrosses without resorting to big “actorly” moments.

Claire (Catherine Frot, so terrific in last year’s “Marguerite”) is the title character of Martin Provost’s film, an employee at a Paris maternity clinic that soon will be shuttered to make way for a big corporate-run hospital.  She’s offered a job with the new outfit, but can’t abide the impersonal atmosphere of quota-run medicine. Which is a big problem…her work is the great joy of her life.

Mostly she lives a solitary, monkish existence. Her college-age son (Quentin Dolmaire) has quietly drifted away (there’s no mention of his father). And Claire is so health-conscious that she’s given up meat and wine (why live in France if you’re going to eat like an ascetic?).

Enter Beatrice (Catherine Deneuve), an aging party girl who has returned to France after years of jet setting. Back when Claire was a teen her father — a swimming champion — had an affair with Beatrice that broke up his marriage. After a few months Beatrice abruptly ended that relationship to gadabout the globe.

Now she’s come back to Paris to reconnect with the love of her life…only to be told by Claire that after being abandoned by Beatrice her brokenhearted father killed himself.

As far as Claire is concerned, after delivering that information she owes Beatrice nothing.  But the older woman reveals that she is dying of a brain tumor — not that she’s going to let a little thing like that cut into her lifestyle of good food and wine, smoking and gambling.

“The Midwife” is basically the story of how the vivacious, hard-living and unapologetically selfish Beatrice slowly transfers some of her values to the good, gray Claire.

That widening of Claire’s narrow horizon extends to a sweet affair with a truck driver (Olivier Gourmet) whose vegetable patch abuts her own.

There are no acting fireworks here.  Writer/director Provost has given us a drama that mostly adheres to the quiet rhythms of real life.

But these two effortlessly luminous actresses make the story compelling.

| Robert W. Butler

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"Zonad"...it's not another "Once"

“Zonad” (Now available)

Everybody who follows pop music has heard of the one-hit wonder.

Same thing can happen in movies.

A couple of years back Irish filmmaker John Carney had an international hit with “Once,” a modest mini-musical about a Dublin street busker who falls for an immigrant girl.

They end up making beautiful music together…so beautiful that “Once” won the Oscar for best original song.

I loved “Once”; thought it may have been the year’s most satisfying film.

But Carney’s followup, just out on DVD, suggests that “Once” was indeed a one-time-only deal.


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