Thursday, July 28, 2011

Catherine Deneuve in Indochine

Catherine Deneuve received her only Oscar nomination to date for playing Eliane, an unmarried French woman, who raises a Vietnamese princess in the movie Indochine. Although Catherine Deneuve was probably the biggest international star of the line-up, she might have received the least votes. This must have been a rather unexpected nomination as she hadn't been nominated for a Golden Globe and she didn't win critics' awards. So this must have been a pleasant surprise for everyone, except for maybe Sharon Stone who (in my opinion) was the runner-up for her (sort of) iconic performance in Basic Instinct.

Although Indochine won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, it's not very popular nowadays. Most people say it's overlong and really boring but for me it was a truly wonderful experience. It's so beautifully made, exceptionally directed and cinematographed. The settings, the costumes, everything was so beautiful about it. The technical part was flawless and it was a really grand movie experience. I guess that's the reason why it (deservedly) won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The acting was pretty decent all around. Everyone turned in very even and proper work.

Including French screen goddess Catherine Deneuve who received her only Oscar nomination (to date) for playing this role. For me the fact that this is her only nomination is quite stunning as she's the lady who gave terrific performances in legendary movies like Belle de Jour. All in all, she's a wonderful actress and an astonishing beauty therefore I was really hoping that I would be amazed by this performance of hers. I've always been into French performances. There seems to be always a kind of distance between the audience and the actor and there's still such an unusual connection between them. Catherine Deneuve's acting is always very minimal and incredibly subtle so I didn't really expect a loud performance. Many think that she's a limited actress but I'm not one of them. I feel that her style can work incredibly sometimes and I love how distant she always is. The beginning of the movie is just brilliant: we see her in black clothes with a Vietnamese orphan whom she takes as her own daughter. The look on Catherine's face is just incredible. I was captivated at the beginning of the movie and that was so great.

Deneuve's beauty helps her a great deal and not because she's a real treat to look at. Or maybe because of it. She has a very haunting presence and she always seems to be like a ghost on the screen. I felt that she portrayed the spirit of Eliane who shows up, chills us and then she's gone. There's something incredibly disturbing about her sometimes and I don't get it why she makes me tense sometimes. Many say that she overdid the frigidness of her character but again I don't agree with them. I never felt that she was colder than she was supposed to be. Her character has an affair with a young soldier and Catherine is excellent in their scenes. Her icy persona is really something that I'm crazy about. I think whenever she needed to, she added as much passion to her character as she could.

Her chemistry with Eliane's daughter is also excellent. I saw them as mother and daughter but also as rivals fighting for their love. However, Catherine always made me wonder about the behaviour of her character. She made Eliane so deliciously mysterious. It was really impressive. Just like her narration. I loved listening to her voice as there was so much emotion in it and those were some of the most memorable moments in her work.

Unfortunately, for about an hour, she's barely on the screen. The movie works without her quite well (that might be a problem for her, I might add) but somehow when she returned, her presence was so strong that she made me forget about the screentime issues. Some of the best moments came like her Oscar clip when she confronts her old "friend" about a horrible death". That emotional outburst was sort of unexpected and yet it worked. But above, I was completely taken away by the scenes where we saw Eliane looking for her lost daughter. When she finds her, it was such an earth-shattering moment for me. I felt tons of emotions in myself and it was just amazing. The hope in her eyes and the willingness to fight was just wonderful. In some time, they lose contanct and they never see each other but it's a wonderful moment when she says why she doesn't want to meet. We see her in sunglasses and she looks so mysterious and wonderful. She very much reminded me of Greta Garbo. Both of them are wonderful, beautiful European superstars who have such powerful presence. I almost expected Catherine to say "I want to be left alone". Wonderful moment.

Sorry haters, I'm not one of you as I was totally taken by Catherine Deneuve's wonderful performance in Indochine. Catherine put on an incredibly subtle but extremely haunting performance that is unforgettable for me. She got everything right and despite the screentime issues she really amazed me.

What do you think?


Louis Morgan said...

Well this one appears that it can go any way. Anyway but Pfeiffer anyways.

1. Thompson
2. Deneuve
3. McDonnell
4. Sarandon
5. Pfeiffer

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ugh, such a rigid and uninvolved performance.

dinasztie said...

Well, I loved her.