My Wife is an Actress

Director: Yvan Attal

French actor Yvan Attal’s first feature as a director is a likeable romantic comedy about the perils of being married to a celebrity. The celebrity in question is Charlotte, who’s played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, Attal’s real-life partner. Attal himself plays Yvan, but his fictional character is a mere sports writer who has to suffer the indignity of watching as his famous wife receives all the attention or gains instant access to a restaurant table he’s been unable to book in advance. Yvan’s sardonic attitude to what he considers the ‘wacko’ elements of showbiz success turn to feelings of real concern and jealousy when an acquaintance taunts him about Charlotte’s love scenes in her movies. Troubled by his partner’s supposedly steamy role in a new British production, Yvan travels to the set at Pinewood Studios, only to discover that his fears may be well founded.
Attal the director pokes fun at his on-screen character, whose Woody Allen-like neurosis and insecurities propel the farce-like narrative. His inability to perceive the dividing line between cinematic illusion and the banal business of shooting a film even gets to the poised and professional Charlotte, who refuses to appear naked in a love scene unless the film crew follow suit. Amazingly, the director agrees, and that, of course, is the moment Yvan pays a surprise visit to the set. A more subtle demonstration of the relationship between professionals is provided in Terence Stamp’s role as an ageing lothario who tries to seduce Charlotte as a matter of course but gives her enough space to maintain a distance. Gainsbourg, who emerged as a star in her teenage roles for Claude Miller in L’Effrontee/An Impudent Girl (1985) and La petite voleuse/The Little Thief (1988), is effortlessly charming in a role that makes no great demands on her considerable talents.
France, 2002. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby/dts digital stereo. 95 mins.

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