MY WIFE IS AN ACTRESS
Sportswriter Yvan (Yvann Attal) is happily married to actress Charlotte (Charlotte Gainsbourg) until he runs into Georges (Lionel Abelanski) a friend of his pregnant sister’s in a bar, where he starts asking questions like “Don’t you worry when your wife is kissing another man?” and “What do you think when you see your wife naked in bed with another actor?” He begins to ferment with jealous notions as Charlotte goes to London to make a film in which she plays a young woman seduced by John (Terence Stamp) playing the older man. In the meantime, Yvann’s sister Nathalie (Noémie Lvovsky) and her husband Vincent (Laurent Bateau) are at loggerheads over the issue of whether or not to circumcise their son.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
An enjoyable romantic comedy with a great deal more credibility than most of its genre, My Wife is an Actress is helped by real life husband and wife team playing with real life professions – at least her. In reality, both are actors, but the artifice of the story is so thin that it plays very real indeed. Down to his hopeless male insecurities and shallowness. Like when all he wants is reassurance that she hasn’t slept with John, and all she wants is him caring for how she feels about him, herself and their marriage. Whether legendary director Claud Berri (as producer here) was asked for any advice I don’t know, but Attal certainly distinguishes himself as a director with an economical, comical yet truthful film with flawless performances. Terence Stamp is creepily ‘off’ in a subtle performance as the ageing lothario, and the side-story of Yvann’s sister and her family squabbles works well to add texture to the simple and focused story. Thoroughly enjoyable and compelling for most of its running time, My Wife is an Actress takes the title as the starting point for an exploration that surely fascinates us all about the weird profession where, as Georges points out, bullets are fake but kisses and tongues are real!
Review by Louise Keller:
Sprinkled with Woody Allen-like neurosis and paranoia, My Wife is An Actress is a delightful film about love and jealousy. Yvann Attal’s screenplay bears the seal of honesty opening up a Pandora’s box of emotions: we watch in fascination, squirm a little, laugh some and get swept away by that wonderful, cataclysmic cyclone called love. It may or may not be autobiographical – after all, Attal is married to his leading lady, and she is a famous actress! It cuts even closer to the bone given the fact that both Attal and Gainsbourg use their own first names. As the film begins, Ella Fitzgerald’s dulcet tones seductively croon Lullaby of Birdland, and this is indeed a lively lullaby but there is no chance at all of our nodding off. The premise is tantalising, the execution divine. Like Allen’s films, there is a delectable jazzy score to savour. We quickly get the picture and understand Yvann and Charlotte’s everyday relationship and it becomes clear that he is ready to crack. After all, fame involves not only getting into restaurants and being let off by the speeding cops, but there’s that 10 quarts of water she drinks every day and then there are those leading men… It only takes a suggestion from a stranger to push Yvann over the edge, and he is obsessed. After all making love is vastly different from pretending to shoot someone with blanks. The juxtaposition of the Jewish subplot between Yvann’s pregnant sister and her husband as they squabble about whether their son will be circumcised, is surprisingly effective, and we feel part of the family. Of course, we know what is going to happen on set when Yvann’s obsessive jealousy takes hold. Like Yvann, you will never forget first his visit to Pinewood Studios, when the love scene is being shot. There are exposed body parts flashing everywhere with dastardly dangly bits on display. Performances are wonderful and Attal is devastatingly honest. Our hearts go out to him, and we share his torment. He makes a total fool of himself, but it doesn’t matter. It all rings true. Terence Stamp gives a funny turn as Charlotte’s leading man: he is almost like a cardboard cutout devoid of any real passion, and a total contrast to Yvann. That is no doubt the point. A real charmer, My Wife is An Actress takes a playful but insightful look at the game of love.
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MY WIFE IS AN ACTRESS (M)
[Ma Femme est une actrice]
CAST: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Yvann Attal, Terence Stamp, Noémie Lvovsky, Laurent Bateau
PRODUCER: Claude Berri
DIRECTOR: Yvann Attal
SCRIPT: Yvann Attal
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Rémy Chevrin
EDITOR: Jennifer Augé
MUSIC: Brad Mehldau
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Katia Wyszkop
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 16, 2002 (Sydney/Melbourne; other states to follow)
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: February 18, 2004