September 19, 2002

French Kissing

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“Paris has a ratio of 1.4 women to every man. And 10,000 of those women are actresses.” Frenchman Yvan Attal’s directing, writing, and acting triumph My Wife is an Actress (Ma femme est une actrice) opens with these lines that set the tone for the entire film. This hilarious film follows a husband and wife who have the same problem that every other married couple has: jealousy. This film is about love, forgiveness, humor, and remembering how lucky one is when with the perfect person.

Hysterically portrayed, the movie is centered around Yvan and Charlotte, his breathtaking actress of a wife. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Attal’s actual wife, plays the role, which surely has to be a little bit autobiographical. Charlotte is on her way to London to begin shooting a new film, in which she is playing opposite every husband’s nightmare: a sexy actor named John (Terence Stamp).

The jealousy begins as Yvan tries to deal maturely with his wife’s career. He seems to accurately bring to the screen a question that many people often think to themselves: “If I was married to an actor, how would I deal with them being intimate on screen with someone else?” Yvan is no different. At the beginning of the film, he does not seem to let it bother him. As time passes, thoughts of his wife with other men preoccupy him. But even as men flock for autographs and he is constantly reminded of his wife’s fame, Yvan denies it as long as he can.

Filmed in Paris and London, this movie captures the romantic aura of European cities. Viewers often see films where two lovers are portrayed, but nothing is like the true love that is seen here between this real life husband and wife team. The natural love is conveyed so beautifully that even if you have never experienced love yourself, you will feel the emotions and struggles of this couple — and it hits you hard.

If French yourself, this movie would probably be even more funny than it is to the American viewer. But the jokes and comic scenes still go off without a hitch. The movie is full of uproarious moments that every viewer can appreciate, no matter if one needs to listen to the French words or read the English subtitles. Grabbing most of the laughs are Nomie Lvovsky, starring as Yvan’s pregnant sister, and her husband Laurent Bateau. Not to steal their thunder, but let’s just say one is very Jewish and one is not, which causes some great comic arguments that spice up the film.

But the movie is about Yvan and Charlotte’s relationship and that is the central aspect of the movie. Their chemistry is amazing and never falters. Attal’s struggle is shown through his great facial expressions. And Gainsburg is attractive as attractive can be. Looking like a French Penelope Cruz, her innocent smile and flirtatious laughter make every man wish that she was his wife. If Attal and Gainsbourg’s real-life relationship is actually this lovely, may they forever be happy.

My Wife is an Actress will touch every audience member’s heart as well as giving everyone a few great laughs. Finally a movie about love that is not an overdone romantic comedy.

Archived article by Cory Sinclair