C ’est La Vie and The Russia House, plus Postcards From The Edge, A World Without Pity, Pacific Heights, The Unbelievable Truth and Tilai reviewed.
INDEX: 18 LISTINGS WEEK ONE 23 WEEK TWO 25
French actress Nathalie Baye may not be as big a draw on these shores as Gerard Depardieu or Isabelle Adjani but her career to date is a roll-call of her country’s finest filmmaking talent. As her latest offering, Diane Kurys’ typically touching relationship study C ’est La Vie, goes on release, Jill Forbes shares a few words with a dedicated performer.
First coming to attention as the dynamic script girl in Francois Truffaut’s wry 1973 exposé of the filmmaking process Day For Night, Nathalie Baye was subsequently ranked alongside Isabelle Huppcrt, Isabelle Adjani and Miou-Miou as one of the ‘nouvelles actrices’, performers who cared more about their roles than their appearances and who were noted for the naturalism of their work on screen. In a compelling series of roles since then. on celluloid and in the theatre, Baye has continued to stick to her guns, with her two most recent films, Nicole Garcia’s Un Weekend sur Deux and Diane Kurys’ C’est La Vie, differing but characteristically committed protrayals discussing the relationship between mother and children during and after the breakup of her marriage.
While the former is currently unscheduled for British distribution, Kurys is in Britain today to promote C ’est La Vie, a sequel of sorts to her earlier story of the passionate friendship between two women, 1983‘s Coup de Foudre (At First Sight). Here it‘s 1958 and two young girls have been packed off to the seaside unaware that Baye. their mother, is on the verge of breaking up with dad (Richard Berry). The film poignantly chronicles, with an admirable lightness oftouch, the harsh lessons in adult behaviour to be thrown up by a childhood summer.
‘I think the film has been a big critical success in France because it approaches the subject matter in a modern way.’ reflects Baye. ‘I mean it doesn‘t bother to go into all that kind of build-up to the breakdown that you get in the classic cinema narrative. All that’s been swept away with the emotions treated very physically. I suppose some people would like to call it
Fatally gathering ln Diane Ku’ C'asl La Vie
“women‘s cinema” but I don‘t have much time for that sort ofcategorisation. What made a difference to me was that Diane Kurys — and Nicole Garcia for that matter— had herselfbeen an actress. so that we started out with a common language. It’s not really a matter of the so-called feminine sensibility. it‘s more about working yourselfinto the role.‘
Initially training as a dancer before attending drama school in the late 605, Baye reckons herself fortunate to have been coming up just at the time when the wave of the post-68 theatrical experimentation hit France to the full. ‘Really you know I had no intention of getting into the movies but after Day For Night I just got the bug. A lot of people found Truffaut extremely cold but I became good friends with him, although we never called each other “tu”. And ofcourse I got the chance to work with him again in The Green Room, in 1978.‘
You’ve worked with nearly all the major French directors - Jean-Luc Godard‘s Sauve Qui Peut- La Vie and Bertrand Tavernier’s Une Semaine des Vacances in 1980, Maurice Pialat's La Gueule Ouverte six years earlier— who did you find the most interesting?
‘People find Godard intimidating but I loved filming with him best of all. Nearly every one of his films have magical moments and I think he films women magnificently. Brigitte Bardot never looked more beautiful than in Contempt. you know. But what he taught me most ofall was just to let things happen. In the middle of shooting he‘d suddenly decide that the light wasn’t right so we‘d take off with Raoul Coutard
to find exactly the right spot he was looking for. It seemed like utter chaos at the time but ther’s always a kind of method in his madness that produces wonderful results.‘
If they call Godard difficult, then many critics find Bertrand Blier more than a little misogynistic. You‘ve made two films with him. Stepfather (1981) and Notre Histoire with Alain Delon in 1984. . .
‘l'm not sure I really know what “misogynistic” means, but Bertrand is a real auteur and perhaps the reason he‘s difficult to work with is because he knows exactly what he wants and you have to try to match the fixed idea he has in his head. His view of life is very cruel but I think the attitude to people has a lot to do with the way he feels about his own looks. Bertrand believes he is a very ugly man and so that maybe explains his rather aggressive attitude to women.‘
While we‘re on the subject of looks. are you now getting to that stage in your career where film actresses in particular find the scrips thinning out and the parts fewer and farther between?
‘It is a problem for women over 40 to work in
film with great regularity. but ifthat nickname “les nouvelles actrices“ ever meant anything it stood for the fact that women were getting more interesting roles to play and that the decorative or immediately sexually attractive aspects of their appearance counted for less than their personality and acting style. I hope so. at least. And I hope it contines that way.‘
C'est La Vie ( I5) plays Edinburgh Ftlmhouse from Sun 3 to Sat 1 o.
The List 22 February— 7 March 199115