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There have been plenty of instances over the years in which the children of movie stars have gone into the business themselves, sometimes in order to demonstrate their own unique talents and sometimes in order to cash in on the family name. One of the most fascinating examples of this has to be the twin careers of acclaimed actress Jane Birkin and her daughter, the equally celebrated Charlotte Gainsbourg. Taken individually, these are two women who have captivated moviegoers around the world for over five decades with their raw acting talent, their undeniable charisma and offbeat sex appeal and their willingness to take on the kind of risky material that would send most actresses running for the hills.
For fans of the two stars and of bolder side of the last half-century of European cinema, this retrospective is essential and for those who are less familiar with their work, checking out some of the films on display will certainly raise your awareness of their prodigious talents and more than a few eyebrows as well.
But as an excuse to watch ridiculously attractive people gamboling about for a couple of hours, it gets the job done. It also demonstrates that at even this early stage in her career, Birkin could more than hold here own with her more experienced co-stars. In it, she plays a young British woman who catches the eye of a year-old director of commercials when they happen to meet in Venice and causes him to leave his pregnant wife.
The two embark on a tumultuous affair that, unsurprisingly, does not end well.
Making his directorial debut, Gainsbourg told the story of Krassly Warhol Superstar Joe Dallesandroa gay garbageman who meets Johnny Birkin at her most androgynous at the remote truck stop where she works—she is instantly smitten with him and he seems reasonably interested as well. Their budding romance is potentially thwarted by the fact that Krassly is unable to achieve an erection when they attempt to Bored hubby wanting to play talented Charlotte love conventionally—a different point of entry allows for his arousal but inspires such screams of pain from her that they are thrown out of every place where they are staying before they can complete the deed.
Apparently deed as a cinematic companion piece to their musical collaboration, the film tells the story of a once-successful writer guess who who, still reeling from the tragic death of his wife, lives with his year-old daughter Charlotte guess who. And while he winds up sleeping with some of her friends that she brings over, it appears as if he may have certain desires towards Charlotte as well. She even goes so far to spend some idyllic time together on a distant island away from the prying eyes of society and her own daughter, who knows what is going on and who is horrified.
As ridiculous and potentially distasteful as the premise may seem, she connects with the character in some deeply personal way presumably augmented by the fact that her children, parents and home are played here by their real-life analogues that allows us to understand and even sympathize with this woman and her plight instead of just recoiling at her actions. Fans of Birkin will find this to be a fascinating portrait of an artist at a personal and professional crossro that probably reveals more of who she is than a more conventional documentary might have, though others may decide that it is a little too much of a good thing.
Long unavailable on home video in the US, "Kung-fu Master! Based on the final screenplay that Francois Truffaut had been working on when he passed away inshe plays another restless youth yearning to escape her humdrum life. In this case, year-old Janine is a compulsive thief who eventually leaves the humdrum post-war small town and goes to Paris, where she has an affair with a married man, a younger boy and fellow thief, often teetering on the brink of getting into the kind of trouble that she will not be able to escape easily.
This is just as well because it is difficult to imagine another actress, then or now, who could have pulled off the role of Janine as well as Gainsbourg, who captures every aspect of the character from her bold insolence to her quietly vulnerable desire to just be loved perfectly. As for Gainsbourg, she would continue to gravitate towards challenging material that would show off her considerable acting gifts.
But rather than report the death and risk being placed into foster care, older sister and brother Julie Gainsbourg and Jack Andrew Robertson bury her in cement in the basement. Eventually, the mental states of the four siblings begins to deteriorate and Jack and Julie find themselves succumbing to the incestuous desires that existed between them even Bored hubby wanting to play talented Charlotte left on their own.
She and Willem Dafoe played a couple who, following the death of their infant child in a terrible accident, retreat to a cabin in the woods to work out their problems and fail miserably—he begins having bizarre visions while she begins lashing out in fits of psychosexual violence that build to a emotionally and physically brutal climax. While I must confess to more or less hating the film as a whole—I find it a combination of arthouse pretension and grotesque violence that is less transgressive than it is desperate for attention—the performances delivered by Gainsbourg who won the Best Actress prize at Cannes for her work and Dafoe are strong and brave and convincing.
Even when this film threatens to run off the rails at times due to its excesses, Gainsbourg keeps it on track, especially in the second half. Her fiercely committed performance brings a raw and human intensity to a character who might have come across as a cartoon in lesser hands. Both Birkin and Gainsbourg continue to go on strong today. Jane and Charlotte Forever, indeed. For more information on the retrospective, including screening dates and times. Peter Sobczynski is a contributor to eFilmcritic.
Peter Sobczynski January 29, Peter Sobczynski Peter Sobczynski is a contributor to eFilmcritic. Latest blog posts. Latest reviews.
Pig Matt Zoller Seitz. The North Water Robert Daniels. Platform Roxana Hadadi.
Meander Glenn Kenny. Scales Monica Castillo. Black Widow Brian Tallerico.Bored hubby wanting to play talented Charlotte
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