Juliette Binoche confronts an issue every actress eventually faces in Olivier Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria— what happens when the casting call you get is for the older woman and no longer that of the star?
Men, as Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenneger and Sylvester Stallone proved by bringing the roadshow to promote their The Expendables 3 over-the-hill mercenaries franchise at the recently concluded Cannes film festival, can continue to play the same action heroes in their 60s or even 70s. But a woman can’t play a star after a certain age, nor should she want to, Binoche, who reached global stardom in films such as The English Patient and Chocolat said at a post-screening news conference.
The film was the last of the 18 in competition for the top Palme d’Or prize to be screened before the main awards were announced. “Imagine if for 40 years you played the part of 20-year-old, you’d get very bored. Of course you can’t play the same parts all the time,” Binoche said. In the film, Binoche plays Maria Enders, an actress whose career resembles her own and who now is in her 40s. Enders’s first big success was playing an aggressive young woman who is employed by a middle-aged woman executive who runs a company. She seduces the older woman and destroys her.
Assayas’s film shows Binoche’s character being asked 20 years later to play the older woman, while an aggressive, media-savvy young American actress (Chloe Grace Moretz of the Kickass films) will take the role of the younger one. Enders has a great deal of difficulty coping with doing the role of the older woman but as the film progresses she finally comes to term with it, and realises she can bring to the part something no younger actress could.
“I think the more experience you have, the more you focus on the really important questions, you open up, you mature, you become more skilled, more honed,” Binoche said.
“Think about (Canadian pianist) Glenn Gould, when he played Bach at the beginning and at the end of his career he didn’t play Bach the same way. “In other words, something happens inside yourself, within yourself. You’re more aware of certain things because life shapes you. Fortunately we do change, we evolve.”
French Cinema is RAW
Moretz said that unlike the character she portrays, who finds a way to humiliate Binoche’s character even while smiling at her, she had relished the prospect of working with Binoche and Assayas, whose films she has admired for years.
“Obviously to work with Olivier, not on any project but specifically a French project with Juliette, would be so special,” she said. “I think there’s something so much more innovative about French cinema than American because it’s alive and there’s something that is very raw about it that we can’t capture in America yet.”
Movie star dog has its day at Cannes
A gentle Labrador mix named Body won the Palm Dog award on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival, that was a pat on the head from canine-lovers and film critics for the outstanding movie performance by a pooch. Body starred in Feher Isten (White God) by Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo, that features more than 250 dogs.
The lead character is Hagen— a role shared by Body and a second hound named Luc —who is abandoned by his family and picked up by a man who trains him to be a fighting dog. At the film’s festival premiere earlier, Body attended a photocall, walked the red carpet and was invited onstage wearing a bowtie. The Palm Dog award is a play on the Palme d’Or, the Cannes festival’s top prize. “What an honour, what a historical hound!” said Palm Dog organiser Toby Rose, who called the film a cross between Inglorious Barksterds and Ben Fur. It had been a golden year for dogs on film. “This Cannes has seen a raging outbreak of dog-risma,” Rose said, citing Jean-Luc Godard’s real-life dog, Roxy Mieville, who stars in his film Adieu au Langage (Goodbye to Language) and Yves Saint Laurent’s French Bulldog Moujik in Saint Laurent by director Bertrand Bonello.
The supporting role of Moujik takes a tragic turn as the dog consumes the party drugs intended for his master and dies. In another canine cameo, a fuzzy English sheepdog appears in David Cronenberg’s critique of Hollywood, Maps to the Stars and is accidentally shot by a teenage movie star. “It was the biggest and best range of dog performances I think I’ve ever known,” Rose told Reuters TV. But in terms of the number of canines on screen at any one time, White God takes the biscuit.
In its opening scene, a pack of 250 barking dogs, none of them created by computer simulation, chase after the protagonist, barking and snarling. Most of the dogs used in the film were rescued in real life from an animal shelter, then adopted by cast members and friends after the shoot.
Although Body was not on hand to accept the award, director Mundruczo accepted the stuffed bone prize on his behalf, saying it was an “uplifting” experience working with his canine stars. “They live in Los Angeles,” he said of Body and Luc, promising to send the bone to their trainer.