The Unabashed Francophile Post, Part 8: Daniel Auteuil

Daniel Auteuil is one of the very few actors whose films I will watch without reserve. If I could find more of his films here, I’d be in heaven.

The first film I saw was Sade. Set during the French Revolution, it focused on the imprisonment of aristocrats by the Jacobins, including the infamous Marquis de Sade. The film has been compared both favourably and unfavourably to others about the Marquis (including Quills), but I prefer it. The acting and storyline are not overdone and the historical drama is solid. Due to the lack of choice at my local video store, this was the only film I saw for several years. Fortunately the ease of renting online and buying from Amazon helped change that.

From viewing Sade, I then found the films Le Bossu and Ma saison préférée. I recommend both, but it is films like La fille sur le pont and 36 Quai des Orfèvres that I absolutely adore. He’s also starred in comedies (Le meilleur ami), as an unlikeable businessman who has to find someone to pose as his best friend, and the occasional English film (The Lost Son), where he plays a private eye living in London, an exile from his native Paris, who begins to investigate the trade in child slavery.

As the Marquis de Sade

As the Marquis de Sade

When I stop to think about what it is exactly about Daniel Auteuil that draws me in… I just can’t put a finger on it. I really can’t. He’s not classically handsome, like Cary Grant (or any other dark-haired actor you might care to name), but I can’t ignore his on-screen presence.

As Sade, he evokes horror and distaste in the other characters, yet manages to win over the young Emilie as well as the audience. Sade is famous, but Auteuil also makes him easy to relate to, very human. As Gabor in ‘La fille sur le pont’, he compels Adele, intrigues her, and tricks her, but he’s a man with many failings. His characters have depth along with the charisma.

In addition to the films mentioned above, I also highly recommend: Peindre ou faire l’amour, Caché, and MR 73. Or you could just go down the list at IMdB.

And a very happy birthday to my favourite writer and friend, Tiffany Reisz!

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11 Responses to The Unabashed Francophile Post, Part 8: Daniel Auteuil

  1. Lanner says:

    I adore Daniel Auteuil too,to the point of near obsession actually. I love French cinema in general,but he’s definitely the best thing about it,and is my favourite actor by a considerable margin,apologies to my former number 1,Ralph Fiennes.

    I own many of his films,and are always looking for others. Have you seen The Widow of St Pierre? If not I highly recommend it,though you’ll need at least one box of Kleenex to get through it.His Captain is such a wonderful,passionate,noble and gallant man.

    Other favourites are Ma Vie est un Enfer,The Eighth Day,Un Coeur en Hiver,Apres Vous,Lucie Aubrac,and the stunning Girl On The Bridge.

    • Hi Lanner 🙂

      I haven’t seen The Widow of St Pierre yet, but it’s on my list to rent.
      I forgot to mention Un Coeur en Hiver! That film was fascinating. I found I could really relate to DA’s character. (Plus the music was great.)

      • Lanner says:

        You have to see Widow.It’s perhaps my favourite DA film,but I’m a hopeless romantic.

        There’s a short clip from it here on Youtube. Site Name

        It’s not the best quality,but it’s one of my favourite scenes.

        Re Un Coeur en Hiver I agree that it’s a wonderful film. I’m fascinated by Stephane,can’t stand Maxime though,and I’m curious to know your theory re why Stephane was the way he was,or if there was nothing wrong with him,and if other’s perceptions and expectations of him are at fault. But I don’t want to prattle on.

        I have heard a few people express their belief that Stephane was really in love with Maxime,which is an interesting theory,for which there’s some possible validation,but it’s not one I favour.

        Anyway I’ll shut up now. Going to watch The Girl On The Bridge later. I need my guyliner fix.

        • Great clip, even with the poor quality.

          I think Stephane just was the way he was, but being uninterested in a relationship (sex or otherwise) is a position that is poorly understood by most people, as they could never imagine being without themselves. I haven’t seen it in some time, so would have to watch it again to really come to a stronger/more detailed theory.

          And I’d almost forgotten about Gabor’s guyliner. That was a nice touch.

          • Lanner says:

            I think your theory is the most likely one.He’s just being himself,he’s just different,and according to what Stephane says in the film, there was no childhood trauma,nothing that would make him fear or reject a relationship,it just isn’t in his nature.

            However as you say it’s difficult for those who follow the norm to understand any deviation from it.

            I’m a big fan of guyliner. He already has incredible intense eyes,but the eyeliner really suits him,or at least Gabor,imho.
            Both he and Vanessa have incredibly large,haunted eyes that draw you almost into their soul it seems,and it works beautifully with the black and white.

            I don’t think the film would have had quite the same appeal if it was shown in colour,even with the incredible acting, and wonderful soundtrack that gives the film much of its pep and charm.

            I’ll have to order Peindre ou Faire l’Amour soon if I can find it on R2 with subtitles. It’s one I’ve yet to see.

            • La Fille wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact in colour, I agree. (Same with the film Angel-A.) The colour would have been distracting, especially considering all the circus scenes and the vibrancy that is the south of France, etc.

              Peindre should be available via Amazon UK, I think. I was able to rent it here (zip.ca). I think you’ll like it.

              • Lanner says:

                Not to mention Gabor’s rather garish clothing. He certainly likes floral prints.

                I’ve just had a look on Amazon UK and the R2 version has no subtitles,so I’ll probably order the R1 from Amazon.com,and pray that my multi region dvd player really is just that. TY for the recommendation and I’ve no doubt that I will love it.I’ve yet to see a DA film that I haven’t enjoyed.

  2. Lanner says:

    Oops,I forgot to mention the incredibly dark,but powerful and touching,MR73.

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