Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Hump Day Hottie, Juliette Binoche

I've been thinking of Juliette Binoche a lot lately. Pouvez-vous me blâmer? The Oscar winning French beauty hasn't been as visible in mainstream media as she was in the 90s but her talent, class and beauty endure. These thoughts I've had have mostly involved guilt that I didn't nominate her in my own personal awards for Flight of the Red Balloon last year. I saw the movie at the last minute and I didn't want to be one of those people (*cough* most awards groups) who just give all their kudos to whatever they saw most recently as if long term memory was dreadfully uncool. But her performance has lingered (and how!) and I can still feel her Suzanne drifting off, distracted, into complex private thoughts, needs, history and damage she just can't share. At least not with her little boy and his nanny.

And then today there's news of Binoche finishing up performances on a dance piece in Hong Kong. Say what?!? I hadn't heard a peep about this but it sounds like a delightful detour for an artist of her caliber.

Binoche and her dance partner Akram Khan in the performance In-I

Imagine an American actress just deciding to go on a modern dance tour in her mid 40s. They grow them differently in France... and for that I can only say 'merci beaucoup'.

I hadn't really thought of Binoche as a physical actress before... I think it was the strange not-very-French-of-her news that she had used a body double in those scrumptious sex scenes in Horsemen on the Roof (1995) that led to believe she was primarily a face actor. Some screen actors unmistakably use their body when they perform and with others the mystery and magic is all in their closeups. Binoche's general warmth and sensuality have always been in ample evidence and maybe the physicality was there, too. Which movies should I rescreen? What are your favorite Binoche films?

She must not be as shy as that Horsemen situation suggested. She did pose nude for French Playboy in 2007 (apparently it's a classier affair overseas) after all.

Click to embiggen unless gauzy 40something nudity offend thee

Nudity, warmth, great acting and an international dance tour? She's earned this celebratory post, wouldn't you say?

previous hump day hotties


Jason Adams said...

WORSHIP. I fell in love with her the first time I saw her - in The English Patient - and have never looked back. She has one of the greatest faces a camera has ever been pointed at. I believe every single thing she does with it. WORSHIP.

Karen said...

Juliette Binoche is a long time favorite of mine. Horseman was brilliant and it doesn't matter that she used a body double for the sex scene, it was everything else that lead up to that moment that made that scene work. Have you seen The Lovers on the Bridge? Amazing, definitely one of her best.

Great subject matter as usual!!!

Ryan said...

JA took the words out of my mouth; indeed, it all began with witnessing her shell-shocked, luminous Hana and then everything since... bliss (okay, maybe not so much during “Dan In Real Life”). It’s just her ability to covey such palpable emotion and deep passion gets me every time. Yes, even during “Chocolat”. As for her performance in “Flight of the Red Balloon”… pitch-perfect.

Oh, and did I mention she’s drop-dead gorgeous.

Ryan said...

Hey, this got me thinking- how many Oscar-winning/nominated ladies have posed for Playboy?

Sharon Stone
Kim Basinger
Juliette Binoche

Anyone else?

I don't think any of the boys have... although Ewan McGregor may as well have.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Around 1993 (Kieslowski era) she decided to cool it down with the nudity because she'd been naked in pretty much everything she'd done in her 8-year career and she was scared she was getting notorious as the actress who's always naked. I'm guessing that's why the body double was brought on.

I haven't seen most of her early work but I imagine there was a lot of physicality in that. I've been planning to check out Les Amants de pont-neuf for the past few years, so maybe I will soon. And I'm catching Curse of the Red Balloon (which, for some reason, is what that movie is always called when I try to think of the name) in the next couple weeks.

And of course, like every human being with a pulse, I too worship her. And I agree with the embarrassed person above who said 'yes, she's even lovely in Chocolat' (not that this means that film should have ever existed in the first place). I'd argue she's France's youngest cinema icon and one of the five best actresses working anywhere in the world right now (note: the other four would most likely also be of French descent).


solshine -- lovers on the bridge is a-ma-zing. a jawdropper. it's probably my favorite Binoche movie outside of Caché.

J.D. said...

She is, without question, a living goddess. I need to see a lot more of her stuff (TEP and TLotB being the most glaring) but just from Three Colors: Blue alone how can anyone doubt her mastery and amazingness? Godly.

Also: WE SHARE A FUCKING BIRTHDAY (which, coincidentally, is Monday). Omgness.

Anonymous said...

I'll see her next week. I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

What about The Incredible Lightness of Being? Ms. Binoche at her finest.

Anonymous said...


The French call her La Binoche for a reason.

And lovers on the bridge is my favorite performance of her.

Why can't we have other actresses like her.

As much as people love Marion Cotillard, she can never be as luminous as Binoche. With Juliet one doesnt know whats coming next.

Anonymous said...

Off Topic, but Nat I need to ask you a question about Pedro Almodovar. I first saw Talk to Her which I loved, but then I watched The Flower of My Secret and Bad Education. I thought TFOMS and BE were both alright. What should I watch next? I'm thinking Volver or All About My Mother. I'm kinda turned off by watching another Almodovar film can you lead on the path of cinema righteousness?

Kelsy said...

I took a beginning film class and used The Horseman on the Roof for my final paper. I ended up watching at least 5 times in a 2 week period because I loved it so much, but I haven't seen it since. Juliette Binoche is pretty great in it, but Olivier Martinez is really what does it for me.



it would help if you said why you didn't love bad education or flower of my secret

but my personal favorites other than talk to her are

all about my mother
wome on the verge...
tie me up tie me down
law of desire

but then I'm an almodovar nut so...

I think you can't go wrong with ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER. Like TALK TO HER it's pretty universally well regarded.

Guy Lodge said...

My favourite actress of her generation, bar none. I keep thinking lately about how she was up for the Hannah Schmitz role in The Reader, and how much more interestingly (and appropriately) she would have been cast there than Winslet. (No offence to the Winsletophiles, who I know can be easily rankled!)

And Nat, the dance piece, which I saw in London back in October or so, is quite stunning. I admit I'm not a great aficionado of modern dance, and pretty much went to see it as a hungry fanboy desperate to see her in anything, and was bowled over. Really sensual, intelligent work, and the fact that she's not a trained dancer gives it an edge and a humanity that such pieces often lack for me. I'm sure it's coming to New York eventually -- see it when it does.

Guy Lodge said...

You should also add "painter" to her list of achievements -- last year, the BFI held a small exhibition of her portraits, which have a real kind of artless charm. Here are two of them:

I have wanted to marry her since I was in short pants.

Guy Lodge said...

Oops, scratch my "I'm sure it's coming to NY" line -- should have read more carefully. I was sure it was a more comprehensive world tour. Oh well.

Glenn said...

She is great, isn't she? The thought of her in The Reader is tantalising, but - in all honesty - the thought of her in anything is tantalising.

There was an article about this in the newspaper last week I think. Was she bringing it here? I can't remember...

Ramification said...

There was a good behind the scenes documentary on the BBC about Binoche and Akram Khans collabiration. They had much conflict as she approached the performance from the point of view of an actress and he is used to working with dancers. Apparently her actual performance did not great reviews in the UK but you have to hand it to her for trying something original

Ramification said...

that should read 'did not get great reviews' :)

Janice said...

//(okay, maybe not so much during “Dan In Real Life”)//

And right up until I read those words I had successfully repressed all memories of that awful thing. Thanks, Ryan.

Anonymous said...

Juliette Binoche is just delicious! I absolutely love her since The English Patient and Chocolat is like one of my fav movies of all time (Binoche, Olin, Dench, and Depp what more can you ask for?)

And judging from the Playboy I REALLY have to look at her from a whole different light! Le Hottie!

Anonymous said...

She came with the dance piece to Montréal about six weeks ago. I didn't see it, but it got pretty good reviews.

If a film she made last year entitled "Paris" ever makes it to the USA, you should catch it. It's a portmanteau film, with lots of story lines, so she's not really a lead actress, but she's certainly worth watching.

Also good in "Paris" is Fabrice Lucchini, as a pedantic professor. He's even better in "La Fille de Monaco," which is currently playing here in Montréal.

Anonymous said...

Have never connected with Binoche's screen performances but I definitely respect her approach. In this culture of celebrity perfumes and clothing lines, you have to respect it when an actor takes a step out of their comfort zone and expresses their creativity through a real art form.
My respect for her just shot way up.

Anonymous said...

What I really respect about her is her desire to explore new boundaries - dance, painting and apparently soon directing. I also REALLY respect the fact that she opted not to pursue a celebrity career in the US, which she definitely could have in the 90s and probably been a very big star.

Another recent film worth watching is Summer Hours by Assayas. There is a scene in the film where she struggles to holdback the tears that is breathtaking.

I saw the dance piece "in-i" in September in London and was amazed. Her physical achievement was amazing. It got mixed reviews in London but then raves in Belgium and France a month later so go figure...

I understood that "in-i" was going to the US (NY) in September - maybe that has changed?

Finally she is due to film with Abbas Kiarostami in May - that will be the ticket at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival!!