This week’s movie at the San Francisco Alliançe Française teams writer and actor Yvan Attal with his real-life wife Charlotte Gainsbourg in his 2001 directorial debut – a romantic comedy appropriately entitled My Wife is an Actress – which also stars British actor Terence Stamp.
Attal plays a successful sports writer, Yvan, whose wife, Charlotte, is a well-known and very popular film star – a role played by Charlotte Gainsbourg who in real life is, of course, one of the most popular actresses in France. Bring in handsome, suave actor Terence Stamp – playing a handsome, suave actor of international fame – and insecurity and jealousy start to creep into Yvan’s life. Madly in love with Charlotte, Yvan starts to question her fidelity when friends and acquaintances keep asking him how he feels when he sees his wife on screen with another man, and he drives himself to distraction trying to find ways in which to put that fidelity to the test.
Attal’s My Wife is an Actress was described in The New York Times as a “noisily enjoyable romantic comedy” and “a terrifically deft picture about the thick line that separates movie glamour from the real world, and the thin line between common sense and paranoia”.
Israeli-born Yvan Attal grew up in Paris, and made his screen debut in 1989 in Eric Rochant’s Un monde sans pitié for which he received a César for Best New Actor in 1990. Other English-language films in which he appeared are The Interpreter (starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn) and Steven Spielberg’s Munich – both in 2005. In an interview for Sony Classics, he makes it quite clear that My Wife is an Actress “is in no way a diary or a documentary about Charlotte Gainsbourg. But I like mixing things up a little,” he continued. “When you make a movie, you go all out to get the audience to believe that the story you’re telling is true. So I used everything at my disposal to make the story as credible as possible. Besides, what’s true and what’s not true in the movies is one of the themes of this film.”
Anglo-French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg is the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and British actress Jane Birkin. Born in London, Charlotte was raised in Paris and made her first film in 1984 – Paroles et musique (which starred Catherine Deneuve). Her achievements include a 1986 César for Most Promising Actress in An Impudent Girl, and another César in 2000 for Best Supporting Actress for the film La Bûche. She also won the award for Best Actress at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for the film Antichrist.
Terence Stamp’s early career was marked by highly successful performances in Billy Budd (1962), Modesty Blaise (1966), Poor Cow (1967) and Far from the Madding Crowd (1967). More recently he appeared as General Zod in Superman II (1980), and in 1984 played the supergrass in Stephen Frears’ The Hit – regarded by many as his finest performance. Other subsequent performances include appearances in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey and George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. According to Empire Online it’s Stamp who “steals the show” in My Wife is an Actress.
This Sony Pictures Classics release was both written and directed by Yvan Attal, director of photography was Remy Chevin, the producer was Claude Berri and executive producer Pierre Grunstein.
My Wife is an Actress will be screened in French with English subtitles at the Alliance Française on Tuesday, April 19, at 7.00 pm. Admission is free, but a donation of $5 is suggested.
Artist profiles on IMdB:
Sony Pictures Classics