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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 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.

Published February 5, 2004

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Ma Femme est une actrice

CAST: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Yvann Attal, Terence Stamp, Noémie Lvovsky, Laurent Bateau

DIRECTOR: Yvann Attal

SCRIPT: Yvann Attal

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 18, 2004

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