Petite and utterly adorable, the French movie star Audrey Tautou will always be known as the Amelie girl for her delightful performance in the 2001 film. On closing night of this year's Rendez-vous with French Cinema, she was the guest of honor at a soiree at the Upper East side Cultural Services of the French Embassy, attending with a posse that included her hairdresser. Her new movie Delicacy, opening in New York this week, has an office romance at its core. In a far corner of the elegant Fifth Avenue townhouse, Tautou, dark curls bobbing, spoke about why her character would enter into an inexplicable love affair with a dull witted co-worker. "You don't know where love comes from. He touched her in a deep place," said Tautou her hands gesticulating wildly. Next up for her is a movie with Cedric Klapisch, Casse Tete Chinoise, an expression that translates loosely to "head crushing anxiety," to be shot soon in Chinatown. When asked if there is an American director with whom she'd like to work, she did not hesitate: "Alexander Payne. I adored his About Schmidt." The French do love what they love.
In the week following The Artist's big sweep of the Oscars, it was clear that the mutual love affair between American and French culture rages on. On opening night, James Lipton had a tête-à-tête with Mathieu Amalric. Each was honored to meet the other. Amalric is perhaps best known in this country for his starring role in Julian Schnabel's Diving Bell and the Butterfly, attended as a director, a role he prefers to acting. His film, The Screen Illusion, a contemporary remake of a Corneille classic in alexandrines, was a Comédie-Française commission. Turns out, the "Inside the Actors' Studio" impresario Lipton, a man of many trades, had translated some French drama himself.
Director Benoît Jacquot's take on the last days of Marie Antoinette, Farewell, My Queen, based on a book by Chantal Thomas, looks at history from the perspective of a maid with a talent for embroidery. I don't know another filmmaker who studies the behavior of women with quite the care and consideration of this director who comes to Rendez-vous every year with a new female-centered film. At the Q&A after a weekend screening he explained his casting of Diane Kruger as the ill-fated queen. Kruger "snatched" the role, insisting upon her similarities to Marie Antoinette: "I am Austrian, my mother is Marie Therese. I was born on July 14. I am the same age as Marie Antoinette when she was guillotined."
Gina Gershon greeted Chiara Mastroianni with a huge hug. Happy to be in New York with director Mathieu Demy for the movie Americano, Mastroianni will return in early April for the Film Society of Lincoln Center's tribute to her mom Catherine Deneuve. "The award has Charlie Chaplin's name," she exuded, "That's a very good sign."
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