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Wednesday, August 28, 2002

My Wife is an Actress

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2002 at 12:00 AM

In this French comedy-drama, Yvan (Yvan Attal) is a sportswriter married to actress Charlotte (Charlotte Gainsbourg), the kind of dazzling babe whose movies inevitably feature sexy love scenes, something that’s starting to get under his skin. She assures him that it’s all in a day’s work, but he’s not so sure. His jealousy starts to come to a boil when she travels to London to make a film with another sex symbol, John (Terence Stamp). That writer-director Attal and actress Gainsbourg are married in real life give the proceedings a slightly voyeuristic gloss, though in the end this is a light, even fluffy, affair. It’s kind of a Gallic Rock Hudson-Doris Day movie, only hipper.

Hipper on the surface, anyway. With its opening montage of movie divas accompanied by Ella Fitzgerald singing “Lullaby of Broadway,” its fluid camera work and sophisticated Brad Mehldau score, the movie gives off an appealing contempo-retro glow.

Gainsbourg, hitherto having made an impression as a rather surly looking gamine in films such as The Cement Garden (1993) and Jayne Eyre (1996), may seem like an unlikely choice to play a movie star so glamorous that strange men shout out her name on the street. But apparently she has an untapped reservoir of charm that she turns on here to great effect. Stamp is also in good form as the aging leading man, not quite a letch but with an eye for the fair opportunity.

The film is burdened with a subplot involving Yvan’s pregnant sister and her boyfriend arguing over whether their impending son should be circumcised — and the story’s denouement is the narrative equivalent of “oh, let’s just end this thing.” But the buoyancy of Attal’s style keeps things moving along in a pleasant fashion. And though the film raises questions that it doesn’t seem interested in answering, it’s diverting enough to earn our indulgence.

Showing exclusively at the Detroit Film Theatre (inside the DIA, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit). Call 313-833-3237.

Richard C. Walls writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail him at letters@metrotimes.com.

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