With eyes you could drown in, Audrey Tautou does earnest like no one else. Capable of sincerity, solemnity and salacious wicked wit, this icon of international cinema is a master of the gaze.
Starting tonight at 8.30pm AEST with MOOD INDIGO, we’re celebrating this French screen siren with some of her finest performances over two nights as part of WM Focus On: Audrey Tautou.
To tide you over until then, we’ve pulled together our five favourite Audrey Tautou roles – from the quirky, to the soul-searching – there’s a little taste of everything.
OUR 5 FAVOURITE AUDREY TAUTOU PERFORMANCES:
5. He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not (France, 2002)
If one film could be said to exhibit Tautou’s range, this is it. Tautou is victim and abuser, innocent and insane, romantic and deluded. The story centers on Angelique, a young student, who is helplessly in love with a married doctor. She pursues him relentlessly but all her desperate attempts to make him leave his pregnant wife are unsuccessful. Then the movie is wound back to the beginning. The events play out once more, but this time from the doctor’s perspective and things look quite different. Tautou plays two roles and yet is still convincingly the same character, a feat which not only commands the screen but also makes the movie.
4. Coco Before Chanel (France, 2009)
This film charts the rise of Coco Chanel from obscure beginnings as an orphan to fashion heights as a designer (one whom we, the audience, all know will become iconic). In the chic minimalist style of Chanel, Tautou does not adorn Coco’s severe capitalism with any fussy whimsical softness. When she falls for ‚ÄúBoy‚Äù Capel, it is the kind of love Tautou rarely gets the chance to depict, it is not giddy and it is not self-conscious. The role of Coco Chanel is Tautou’s opportunity to do naturalism and she seizes it without hesitation. Under Anne Fontaine’s direction, Audrey Tautou delivers a cool unpretentious performance that is at once unique in her oeuvre and yet also one she was seemingly born to play.
3. Priceless (France, 2006)
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S for a new generation, PRICELESS masterfully balances sex, romance and gentle-hearted humor with gigolos, gold-diggers and greed. Swapping one Audrey for another, Tautou is just as pretty, fun, and funny as her Hepburn counterpart. Often criticized for being fluffy, the film is a benign farce rather than shrewd satire. It is the performance of homely loveable actors, Audrey Tautou and Gad Elmaleh, as a material girl and boy that sends the movie from caper to classic. Tautou is fiercely flirtatious and we are smitten as fast as her character’s rich boyfriend. Her expressions as she dispenses advice to her fellow hustler are gloriously pitched between candor and comedy. She is truly a star in this movie: warm, bright and shiny.
2. A Very Long Engagement (France, 2004)
This Oscar-nominated film reunites Tautou with the director of AM√âLIE, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and is set in World War One. During the Battle of the Somme, five French soldiers shoot themselves (either by accident or on purpose). A court martial convenes, judges them to be cowards, and banishes them to No Man’s Land. Tautou plays Mathilde, fiancée to one of the men, who desperately tries to uncover his fate. A bout with polio as a child hinders her way, but ultimately she comes to discover the heights and depths of the human soul. Tautou combines her usual spell-binding innocence and sensuality with a steely determination that is visceral.
1. Amélie (France, 2001)
For many of us, this modern-day fairytale was the ‚ÄúOnce Upon A Time…‚Äù to an Audrey Tautou love story. There is a French word, ‚Äúémerveillement‚Äù, which describes the state of being filled with curious wonder. That is perhaps the only way to articulate the effect of AM√âLIE. More than a decade later, the performance that made 23 year-old Tautou a star tastes just as sweet. The story of a waifish Parisian do-gooder is not set in the real-life Paris of 1997. There is not an ugly thing in sight; no McDonald’s and no racism, no scaffold-monster Pompidou Centre and no shocking poverty. It is Tautou who charms us, bewitches us, into eating up this saccharine fantasy until our teeth ache. And it is only she who we can ever imagine as the unforgettable Amélie.