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August 30, 2002 - Image 89

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-08-30

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complicated ideas about
whether acting is all only "pre-
tend," or whether the pretense
of theater masks a very real
There are moments in My
Wife Is an Actress where Attal
strives in his writing and
directing to get at these issues.
For instance, one of the
cleverest scenes in the film
occurs when Yvan decides to
take an acting class so he can
understand his wife's profession.
Real-life husband and wife Yvan Attal and
In a brilliant move, Attal
Charlotte Gainsbourg in 'My Wife Is an Actress."
shows us Yvan searching for
some answers about actors'
motivations. Here we begin to
central issues to the fullest. And Yvan
see the more interesting currents below and Charlotte are, for the most part,
the surface of this stylized comedy.
static characters. Even comedy
Meanwhile, the subplot adds a
requires more psychological develop-
loosely related counterpoint to the
ment than what we see in this film.
main story line with a glance at
Yet, in spite of these reservations,
another marital conflict: Yvan's preg-
My Wife Is an Actress works well on
nant sister Nathalie (Noemie Lvovsky)
the level of lively comedy. It's engag-
persistently tries to convince her non-
ing, fun and definitely worth the
Jewish husband (Laurent Bateau) that
viewing. ❑
their son must be circumcised. The
subplot offers some fine comic
My Wife Is an Actress screens at
moments but never quite gets beyond
the Detroit Film Theatre at the
the superficial humor.
Detroit Institute of Arts 7 and
Finally, the conflicts in both plots
9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
resolve far too abruptly, leaving the
and 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug.
film feeling somewhat unfinished.
30-Sept. 1. $6. (313) 833-3237.
In his feature film directorial debut,
Attal falls short of exploring the film's

Attal notes that since he's not obser-
vant, his being circumcised serves as a
daily reminder that he's Jewish. There's
no equivalent for Jewish women, which
might partially explain why his charac-
ter's sister in My Wife Is An Actress is so
adamant that her son be circumcised.
Gainsbourg listens — and occa-
sionally translates a word — as Attal
relates that the fight over circumci-
sion in the film is modeled on other
couples, not them.
He's clearly conflicted, however,
about how to raise their son, who
isn't Jewish according to Jewish law.
"I knovv that I won't put in my-
child's mind that he has to be a Jew.
He will be free to think whatever he
wants." But a moment later, he says,
"I'm sure I would be disappointed if
he doesn't make his bar mitzvah."
Attal had a steady career as a film
actor before writing and directing a
short film about a regular guy and
his actress wife. French Jewish pro-
ducer Claude Berri saw it and offered
Artal the chance to expand it into a

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Israeli-born French filmmaker Yvan Attal
in a scene from 'My Wife Is an Actress."

Inevitably, this interview turned to
the recent French elections, in which
the right-wing Le Pen candidate

made the runoff (and was trounced).
Le Pen circulated a list of French
Jewish artists during the campaign
that included Attal and Gainsbourg.
"I think it's a problem to be Jewish
in France, and I'm very serious when
I say that," Attal declares.
"They want you to be ashamed of
the fact that you are Jewish. It's
exactly what the Nazis did. The first
thing is to humiliate you."

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