Catherine Deneuve • Actress
A Frenchwoman in Manhattan
by Valeria Chiari
- One of world cinema’s most charismatic and beautiful actresses arrives at the Festival together with Tonie Marshall, the director of her latest film, Au plus près du paradis
Catherine Deneuve. The consummate actress, a unique blend of talent, beauty, intelligence and feminine charm has come to the Venice Film Festival to present her latest film Au plus près du paradis. Although this film directed by fellow Frenchwoman, Tonie Marshall did not encounter great critical acclaim, there is no doubt that Deneuve is Marshall’s muse. The director, whom audiences best remember for wonderful little films like Sciampiste & Co. and Tontaine et Tonton said that not only did she write this film in order to work with Deneuve, but the initial spark of inspiration came from something the actress once said during an interview. “As far as I am concerned, Catherine is cinema. She has this extraordinary talent for becoming the characters she plays and I drew inspiration for this film by looking at her face and body.
Cinema’s most famous blond, dressed in an apple-green suit with “lots of hair”, to quote a line from the film spoken by her co-star William Hurt, smiled graciously as photographers snapped away. In answer to the ambiguous criticism of one fearless journalist, Deneuve launched into a strong defence of her most recent roles and said that modern cinema was fast becoming too dependent on technology. “Film is a very young art that is still evolving all the time. As a result of technological breakthroughs, it is possible to make perfect films that fail to move people. However I firmly believe that soon, we shall reach a balance between content and technology.”
It is almost as though Deneuve has reverted back to the character she plays in Au plus près de paradis, Fanette, a middle-aged woman who meets up again with a former lover and rediscovers feelings that she thought were long buried. Deneuve’s brilliant and serene gaze is that of Fanette. Unfortunately, poor Fanette deludes herself that she can rekindle a love affair that ended thirty years ago on the viewing platform of the Empire State Building (memories of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr). “Fanette finds her true self in a darkened film theatre where the 1957 melodrama An Affair to Remember is being screened,” says Deneuve. “She becomes the characters and lives and breaths with them.” She concludes the conference by saying, “It is always a delight to present a film at an international festival such as this because people are more receptive. It’s like a message in a bottle, someone somewhere will find it.”
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