Friday, August 14, 2009

Beauty Break: Emmanuelle Béart

Today is Emmanuelle Béart's 46th birthday. Here she is to your left earlier this summer with another Gallic great Isabelle Huppert. Huppert is still an arthouse draw in the states but it seems like it's been ages since Béart made it to our screens in any significant way. There's been a teensy run here and there (Strayed, The Witnesses) but the last film that won any real attention was 8 Women (2002) also starring Huppert... and Catherine Deneuve and Fanny Ardant and Ludivine Sagnier. Mon dieu, je l'aime!

The last time I remember hearing other Americans talk about Béart was in college in the early to mid90s when Béart had that critically acclaimed run of Un Couer en Hiver (Cesar nom), L'Enfer, A French Woman and Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud (Cesar nomination) but international stardom is a tough thing to maintain for anyone, no matter how beautiful or talented. Exceedingly rare are the Hupperts and Deneuves who can hold on to it with a steel grip all their lives.

Béart often gets wet in photoshoots, non?

She's not French but look at the career of Franka Potente? How the hell did she not stay as famous as she was in the late 90s after Run Lola Run? She was just as riveting to watch in The Princess and the Warrior even if the film wasn't as good and she more than held her own in The Bourne Identity. Makes you wonder what will become of Gael Garcia Bernal, Audrey Tatou, Marion Cotillard in ten years time. Hasn't Zhang Ziyi essentially disappeared already?

<--- The star with her husband, french actor Michael Cohen.

Béart first won my heart as skinny dipping Manon, the youthful goddess of Manon of the Spring. That movie made me bawl. I remember being greatly confused that Jean de Florette (the preface) and Manon (the conclusion) weren't nominated at the Oscars. That epic two-parter had to make due with Globe and BAFTA attention -- though I knew nothing of the other awards back then so the honors were lost on me. I was so obsessed with Jean/Manon that I even bought the soundtrack and used to sing along with the theme song phonetically. What was I singing about? I didn't know but assuming it was a hymn to Béart was good enough for me.

Here is the original trailer to Manon and a recent French cel phone commercial (creepy or funny?) starring the famous beauty.

Where would you rank Béart in the pantheon of French goddesses? And which young French actress are you obsessed with? I mean, besides Ludivine Sagnier who I'll assume you love? If not, don't tell me otherwise!

[If you aren't familiar with Béart or maybe just beginning to fall in love with French cinema, Netflix has 21 of Béart's movies. Lots to choose from.]


Kent said...

I'm ashamed I haven't seen any of Emmanuelle Beart's performances. Don't know where to start.

Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Adjani, Isabelle Huppert, and Anouk Aimee are my all time French faves.

I'm currently fascinated by Emmanuelle Seigner after seeing her in 2007's The Diving Bell and Butterfly and La Vie En Rose. She's so radiant.


Kent --- obviously i recommend JEAN de FLORETTE and MANON OF THE SPRINGS and 8 WOMEN is a hoot.

some people swear by LA BELLE NOISEUSE and it is very good but it's also very very long (3 1/2 hours if i recall)

some famous roles:
L'ENFER (1994)
STRAYED (2003)

NETFLIX has several of them.

Wayne B said...

"Hasn't Zhang Ziyi essentially disappeared already?" Please don't say that. I'm still hoping for more 2046-level work from her.

I'm a fan of Sagnier, especially since I found out I share a birthday with her. Melanie Laurent intrigues me; can't wait to see her in QT's latest.

How beautiful was Françoise Dorléac, Deneuve's elder sister? Such a shame that the cinema world didn't get to see more of her.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Devos is actually my favourite Emmannuelle and has been for the better part of this decade. But this isn't to say anything against Beart. Beart is lovely and moody and compelling and perennially naked as ever (do you think she just unhooks the bra soon as she signs a contract? I've yet to see a Beart film where her puppies don't turn in a gratuitous appearance. Even in an 80s Aids drama about gay male lovers, she finds a way to whip 'em out. Applaud this woman!)
But through the entirety of Arnaud Desplechin's output as well as Read My Lips and her oh-so-charming bit part in The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Devos has entered and repeatedly risen within my personal pantheon. I now look forward to her appearance in films even more intensely than I do to Huppert's or Deneuve's or Adjani's.
Speaking of Adjani - there's another staggering, freakishly talented from a young age, ageless goddess that's all but disappeared from international screens.

Notas Sobre Creación Cultural e Imaginarios Sociales said...

I second the Adjani love. Two Oscar nods and then nothing...
"The Witnesses" was actually awesome, too bad it didn't get big in the States.
As for my current French obsession, I know she doesn't really count...but I'm hooked on everything Kristin Scott Thomas is doing in the language of Moliere.


goran... i concur that Devos is really something. Even when she's barely in a movie (like A Christmas Tale) she totally seizes the camera and your imagination.

love her.

Dimi said...

I'd have to say I'm obsessed with Clémence Poésy right now (or rather, I WAS, when In Bruges came out over a year ago). I suppose she'll continue her role as Fleur in the Harry Potter gauntlet in the next few years. Hopefully, they'll find something for her to do seeing as how they completely marginalized her and her future husband, Bill, in the last movie.

And of course, I'll never tire of Ludivine...

Ed Howard said...

She's amazing. I obviously love her in La belle noiseuse, an epic masterpiece, but she's possibly even better in Rivette's lesser-known later film with her, The Story of Marie and Julien. It's an utterly mysterious, strangely charming film, very quiet and eerie. It's something of a ghost story, with Beart as a very entrancing ghost.

Chabrol's L'enfer isn't great overall, but Beart's performance -- a bouncy, cartoonishly sexy tour de force -- is breathtaking.

BeRightBack said...

I realize she is Québécois, not French, but Anne Dorval as the mother in J'ai Tué Ma Mère really stuck with me.

What does one do with Charlotte Rampling? I am so, so obsessed with her. Can't we just call her a French actress when we need to, and a British one when we need one of those? Sous le Sable! C'mon!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of two of my favorite French actresses, apparently the Criterion Collection is set to have a November release of A Christmas Tale (Deneuve + Devos = heaven). It isn't posted yet on their site so don't get your hopes too high, but I have heard from other sources it is

Anonymous said...

I lied! It is posted on the Criterion site. Hooray!

Arkaan said...

In terms of younger actresses, my heart goes out to Chiara Mastroianni. Now, she's not quite on the level of Devos, Adjani, Huppert, or even Beart quite yet, but I feel comfortable in predicting that she'll get there. She's got such a light sadness surrounding her (Love Songs, A Christmas Tale being the obvious examples). Anne Consigny from the same film was defiantly intriguing.

I was glad to see Y Kant Goran Rite mention Devos. Read My Lips is so awesome and that's largely due to her sensational work (2002 was nuttsily awesome for actresses). Kings and Queen... also terrific.

Isabelle Carerre was wonderful in PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC SPACES, but so was virtually everyone.

Valeri Bruni-Tedeschi is awesomely ageless and sublimely brilliant. How she sketches out her character in TIME TO LEAVE is something marvelous to behold.

And while she's not a professional actress yet, I think Rachel Regulier's work in THE CLASS is absolutely amazing (she's Koumba). She doesn't even have an imdb page but I hope she gets cast regularly in upcoming French films.

And Hafsia Herzi.

JL said...

Catherine Deneuve is in my top 6 actresses of all time, her performances is sophisticated and icy. Best Performance: The Last Metro

Also Adjani is VERY good. She's more intense and passionate than Deneuve. Best Performance: Queen Margot

There's nothing wrong with Aimée, the only thing is I'm not overly fond of her.

Isabelle Huppert I am sadly not so familiar with, but from the very few movies I've seen of her she's great.

Emmanuelle Seigner gives good performances, but In some why they don't appeal to me.

I am right now deeply inlove with Marion Cotillard. She gave us one of the great performances of all time in "La Vie En Rose".

Audrey Tautou i sometimes think is great, but sometimes just meh. Don't know why?

Then there's DANIELLE DARRIEUX! One of the greatest french actresses.

Then there's ofcourse many other great french actresses like Signoret, Colbert and Binoche.

Anderson said...

After MISSION IMPOSSIBLE I thought she would be huge. I don't know if it was choice or chance, but that never happened.


Anderson... i sometimes think Béart's trips into Hollywood cinema killed off interest. just not as good in them as in the french stuff (which is usually the case with actors -- better in their original tongue. see also: Penelope Cruz)

JL ... i don't really understand Seigner either. But Deneuve is in my top 10 of all time which, in no particular order, are:


(give or take: Crawford, Monroe, Winslet, Leigh, Turner, Andrews, Shearer, A. Hepburn, Lombard, Christie and Keaton)

why do i keep retyping this list? Because i love them so!

Catherine said...

I think the only Béart perfs I've watched are Jean/Manon and 8 Women.

I'm fond of Sylvie Testud, but I haven't seen her in anything in ages.

Laurence said...

I just fell in love with Cécile de France in the first part of the Mesrine biopic. So effortlessly cool and super stylish but also a great actress. Film is great too.

8 Women is one of my favourite films. Makes me feel all warm inside to see all that great talent.

Paulo Peralta said...

I like Marina Hands... loved her in Lady Chaterley and loved her in Le Scaphandre et le Papillon... And Chiara as well. She has something on hr eyes that makes us fall for her :)

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

And Binoche!! Oh my God did I seriously forget Binoche..

Also, I concur that very soon something great might become of the spawn of Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni. She's already given one sublime performance in A Christmas Tale. In fact, that movie (like most of Desplechin's) was loaded with sublime performances by female French actresses and sublimeness in general.

steve said...


two beautiful women - thanks for this post

though she's not "young," Catherine Deneuve is one of the all time great film actors imo

though she doesn't get the exposure/accolades of Streep or many of her contemporaries, her work is always meticulous, flawless, edgy & daring

john said...

I don't think Marion Cotillard will be disappearing anytime soon, what she has going for her is Hylda Quelley A.K.A Agent to Winslet and Blanchett and Cruz.

adri said...

Sophie Marceau always captures me completely every time I see a performance of hers. I also love Binoche, Huppert, Delpy, and Fanny Ardant.

Like Dimi said, Clemence Poesy is the young French actress who I want to see more of. I couldn't believe the actress in "In Bruges" was the same one who'd played Fleur in Harry Potter. She's so exquisitely beautiful and yet full of energy and surprises.

I'd say the French actress of the moment though is Charlotte Gainsbourg. And deservedly so.