Le Bal des Actrices : Review

It’s been a while since I last went to the Alliance Française for a film screening. Or Ciném’Alliance, as it’s called. The last I went to AF for Ciném’ was in 2009, some five days after my birthday, with the screening of Astérix at the Olympic Games. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, but I digress.

Now, I’m supposed to be writing a review on the recent film I watched, Le Bal des Actrices (The Ball of the Actresses). Actual poster not put up by reason of nudity, though enough of it is being shown in
Un Point C’est Toi and Je te rends ton amour. Again, I digress. So I'll only be putting in the attachment sent by AF :

I skipped the poulet basquaise because I wanted to return to have a home-cooked dinner. I was also looking for the exam coordinator, Farita, but she was out on holiday and would only return in mid-February. But I knew better than last year, at least. I shook off the emo disguise and went to the cafeteria to meet some new friends. And I met four ! - Simon and Marianne (I think that's what her name is), both teachers in AF, as well as two students, Karen and Miyako. (Pictures not available because my battery was almost flat, but never mind...) Dinner began at 7 ; the film began at 8:15. And just minutes before the film, Marianne challenged all those who came to a game : we had to guess who was who. Guessing who Maïwenn was was easy, no doubt... well, I'll tell you the story. But ultimately, I lost Marianne's game. :P

Now, the real review begins.

I only guessed the year of the film (2008, and it turned out to be a correct guess) some ten minutes after the film was over. I figured it would be new, for the fact that several new talents are being filmed all in one go. The film was directed by
Maïwenn Le Besco, who also played the main character (herself, Maïwenn - pronounced mai-when), and featured many other fresh new stars including Julie Depardieu, model-turned-actress Estelle Lefébure, and actresses Linh Dan Pham, Charlotte Rampling, Karin Viard, Jeanne Balibar, Mylène Jampanoï, Mélanie Doutey, Marina Foïs, Karole Rocher, Léonie Simaga - all playing themselves !

So we have Maïwenn, who, in the film, has a rapper/singer for a husband, and a young kid named Romeo. Pretty used to the life of an actress, Maïwenn decides to take the big leap and start directing films for a change. She describes it as "a neurotic encounter of actresses who feel they want to be loved." Not thinking about the profit, all she wants to do is to film a documentary-cum-musical. For this, Maïwenn showcases different types of actresses - new and old, famous and forgotten, and is not hesitant to film all - even in unflattering positions and times...

... such as... ew, this... ! (And you'd definitely not want to deal with an angry cow who kicks pails all over the place.)

We have the usual scene in many French comedies where we poke fun at the people who wish they can speak good English, but can't. In the beginning of the film, Maïwenn's husband gave a rather stereotypical pronounciation of "Spiderman" (he said Speed-er-mannn), and this actress - yes, the one whom you see in the above pic - I can't make out which one she actually is - dreams of getting to Hollywood and living the high life, and winning Oscars after receiving an English script, but the first thing that comes out of her mouth is a string of swears.

Pretty stereotypical, eh ? (The first thing that comes out for most people, in any language, if they've learnt it for the first time, are swears !)

We have the case of the actress who wishes so much to shake off her disguise and land a role,

the case of an actress who wants to get a new thirst for acting and bring some zest into her life, as in the unforgettable case of Charlotte Rampling...

the actress who scolds the director just because she thinks the film is horrible,

the actress who sees nothing but sadness on stage,

the actress who fears she will be forgotten (note : the dance in front of the Arc de Triomphe was really well choreographed and got me moving to the beat... on my seat, of course, to prevent further embarrassment to myself),

the actress who believes that everything is a work of art,

the actress who is heavily infatuated by childbirth, pregnancy, babies and motherhood - as in the case of Julie Depardieu,

the French wannabe version of Angelina Jolie, who goes on a holiday to India (the place looks like Tamil Nadu) and adopts a baby named Dinesh... (the horror on Maïwenn's face when she finds that out !),

the heartbreaking case of Linh Dan Pham, who is looked down upon by her parents for winning two awards and being an actress in France,

the spoilt brat Karole Rocher, who goes to acting school but proves to be overbearing for the teacher, that the teacher even expels her from her class,

poor Maïwenn forgetting lots of things, even her son's birthday, but still doing everything to keep the love going on,

and the infatuation of an actress with...... *gasps* another actress. After Maïwenn's husband encourages her to kiss Estelle, Maïwenn dreams, in the middle of the night, about having a relationship with Estelle. (I did not watch the subsequent nude underwater scene between Estelle and Maïwenn for obvious reasons.) Which led us to pose the question : Is Maïwenn bi or is she just playing bi ? She is in for a reality check when Estelle tells her that she doesn't "love love" her.

...and the sadness of all of it when the plans for the film are declared over and Maïwenn is faced with fifteen successive lawsuits.

Yet, in the midst of all that turmoil, they don't tell Maïwenn anything because they still regard her as their friend. Most of all, there's one person who gives her a warm hug and a reassuring kiss when all the pieces lies where they fall......

Yes, Maïwenn, we all love you like that.

Explicit language, suggestive themes and nudity aside, kudos to Maïwenn for a daring take on the life of actresses, which was once presumed to be on the high. And here's hoping that Le Carnet du Service National gets real... because I'm already having thoughs of taking Maïwenn into the voice cast.

Score : ★★★★★

P.S. Thank you Simon, Marianne, Karen and Miyako for making my evening a wonderful one. ^_^


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