I have always absolutely adored French actresses. The way they slink like beautiful cats on screen, a ferocity and sensuality in their glance. Delicious. Perhaps because they posses a slender grace and an elegance that are so far removed from my own rosy cheeked milkmaid aesthetic.
Here are some of my all time favourite French Starlets, and the films where I first fell in love with them.
Isabelle Adjani – La Reine Margot (1994)La Reine Margot, and Adjani’s performance in the titular role, made such an impression on me that if I ever have a daughter, I’ll be calling her Margot. When we adopted an abandoned sparrow this summer, we called her Margot. Even my old bicycle was called Margot. Isabelle must be one of the most beautiful women in the world, and her powerful portrayal of a young queen trapped in the midst of a religious war in 16th century France is magnetic. One of my all time favourite films, La Reine Margot is drenched in blood, sex and politics, with a love story at its heart.
Eva Green – The Dreamers (2003)From the first moment that I saw Eva Green, tied to a fence in her blue velvet dress in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, I was completely enchanted. She has such a soulful beauty, and Bertolucci himself said she’s “so beautiful, it’s indecent.” Eva has proven herself to be an extraordinary actress throughout her career, and an actress that I have closely followed since her debut in The Dreamers, a saucy, incestuous tale set against the background of the ’68 Paris student riots.
Emmanuelle Beart – 8 Femmes (2002)This deliciously kitsch murder mystery is the perfect film for a cosy night in and a glass of wine. In an outstanding ensemble cast, including the marvellous Fanny Ardant, Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Deneuve, the kittenish sex pot Louise, played by Beart, was the standout. Set in the 1950’s, eight women must together discover the killer of their murdered patriarch. Emmanuelle’s performance oozes sass and sex appeal, and she steals every scene that she’s in.
Melanie Laurent – Inglorious Basterds (2009)Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last ten years, chances are that you’ve already seen Inglourious Basterds. While I find most of Tarantino’s films a bit too violent for my liking, this is one that I’ve gone back to watch several times. Laurent’s Shosanna, a gorgeous Jewess on the hunt for revenge in Nazi occupied Paris, is utterly captivating, and extremely watchable.
Clemence Poesy – In Bruges (2008)In Bruges is one of my all time favourite black comedies. It’s got everything. Ralph Fiennes with a mouth filthier than a public toilet, stunning cinematography, Brendan Gleeson being his usual incredible self, and the enigmatic Clemence Poesy. Her character Chloe is the ultimate cool girl, who is not all that she appears to be. Clemence mostly makes art house French films, however you may well recognise her from her role as Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter franchise.
Who are your favourite French actresses? My list could go on and on, but it’s a Sunday, and we all have brunches to go to.