I saw Catherine randomly in a documentary about a famous paparazzi and he was looking at some pictures with a guy probably in his late forties who asks “Who is this?” and the photographer says “That’s Catherine Deneuve, French Actress”. I was a bit shocked and also offended. So that’s it? Here we are in Twenty First Century and who is she? Who is she?? Suddenly I had this urge, “I need to write about her, I need to write about her…”
For me, every time I see Catherine Deneuve my heart pumps out, because she’s what we can still call an icon, because she’s one of the greatest actors with the most respectful careers, because she’s feminism in its pure and cold form, because she possesses this daring straightforwardness and because she’s worth being known for.
What intrigues me the most about this woman is her look and I find it really hard to describe. There’s this vulnerability, this coldness, unhappiness and it’s just unreadable.
Then there are the sixties.
Catherine Deneuve’s decade in the sixties it’s almost what an actor searches for in his entire career. She made some films in the sixties that marked turning points, for instance the musicals. She worked twice with Jacques Demy in “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” and “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort”, she worked with legends like Luis Bunuel, Roman Polanski and François Truffaut. Including also a few low romantic comedies and dramas. She also had time to do a Hollywood piece by Stuart Rosenberg starring alongside Jack Lemmon, but she didn’t stay there permanently (wisely or not).
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg – She is Genevieve! Some people say she steals the all show. I most certainly wouldn’t say that, because the film is much more than that. It’s about the color, is especially about the music which is still played today, it’s about how a French filmmaker doing a film in the rise of Nouvelle Vague escapes and stands apart from that vibe. Making its own Nouvelle Vague, perhaps it could be said that. The film is all singed, so it’s quite an experience. Not only had she become a muse to Jacques Demy but for many others.
Repulsion – Catherine in a black and white thriller where those eyes made everything work! I would say she’s the tone and essence of the film.
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort – her second musical with Jacque Demy starring alongside her late sister Françoise Dorleac who plays her twin sister and another stars like Danielle Darrieux and Gene Kelly. This musical is colorful, beautiful and really amusing, probably my favorite musical. And to compare this musical to what is released today you wouldn’t notice a difference, because “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” still is modern.
Belle de Jour – is where you can see her ‘look’. It’s all about her expression. It will make you nuts because it’s surreal. It’s a really intriguing and fascinating look at a wealthy woman who struggles to find her soul. She had some trouble during the shoots of this film but she got there!
Looking back and remembering this times and those moments, doesn’t really make you wanna go back in time and live in another decade? Cause really, now it’s all so messed up and you just have to deal with the fact that everything is ultimately meaningless. Today, everything that society touches will at one point become extremely used until it becomes unbearable. But ok, I’m already out of line!
“La Sirene du Mississipi” – this film by François Truffaut is such an amusing romantic film. It’s not obviously the best, but hey, it’s good!
She indeed has an amazing decade in the sixties and made some very timeless films and after being at Cannes Film Festival endless times and doing all kinds of films, literally, throughout three decades, she arrives in Twenty First Century and she still has films competing in Cannes, including two at the same like “Un Cont de Noel” and “Persepolis”, two extraordinary, beautiful and significant films. And she still brings ‘the look’ to you, today.
Part of my interest for her is that you look at her through the years and all the things that come to your mind is heartbreaker, blond femme fatal with this dangerous attractiveness and what intrigues me the most: her mysterious look. As once described as “cool, calm, remote and with an edge of mystery about her”, she was always something very different from her looks. Besides her cool and calm figure, which is in her, she always brings this honesty and point of view on the society she’s involved in, the cinema industry and society in general, often very significant. Oh and I forgot her trade mark, the way she constantly smokes!
As a film star she was always capable of doing this perfect separation between privacy and giving an opinion about anything (and still being capable of not talking about her personal life). I don’t think it has to do with her being French or European.
She always had this tremendous view on women in general, she wasn’t afraid of expressing her feelings towards other women, she always defended them. She knew and confessed that her looks made what she is now, which she always accepted (at least she had to accept it at some point).
Susan Sarandon once said this about her co-star in “The Hunger”: “You wouldn’t have to get drunk to bed Catherine Deneuve”.
There’s no such thing has an iconic person nowadays. I would dare to say Angelina Jolie maybe, because she really is an iconic beauty and despite all the things involving her career, including her personal life, which in a way she earned from her father, becoming bigger than her film career and turning her life into a chick flick itself, Angelina Jolie is someone who should be followed for good and bad reasons. Ok I’m going too far here but for me she’s worth being known for because I believe she changed some people’s perspectives, at least she helped mine for better. Like an old photographer said, “the iconic stars are gone”…Deneuve is not yet there! And look, just when I was talking about her Stephen Holden from The New York Times writes: “What would French film culture look like without its queen, Catherine Deneuve, steering the ship of state?”
Catherine Deneuve is such a beautiful adaptation of human nature. I always recognized the name Deneuve. For me, her name was always something much known and even magisterial and I’m a person from Twenty-First century, everything prior to that is a light blur or some mixed unconscious memory (probably my memory isn’t always very strong).
I absolutely love her as the person she is and for the many films she’s in! And I want people to know her for god sake.
So there you have, Catherine Deneuve.
P.S - She will definitely be back.