The Unabashed Francophile Post, Part 8: Daniel Auteuil

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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.

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!