All About Actresses (La Bal des Actrices)



Laura Clifford 
All About Actresses (La Bal des Actrices)

Robin Clifford 

Writer/director/star Maïwenn Le Besco (who aims a few low balls at her "Haute Tension" costar Cecile de France) has an idea to make a documentary musical and her producer encourages her, suggesting she just remake her last film with songs and get Cecile de France to star.  What?! she exclaims in horror.  And so Le Besco sets out to make a film "All About Actresses."

Laura:
Le Besco romps through the French film industry (with occasional side trips to the stage), meeting with the likes of Charlotte Rampling ("Swimming Pool," "Heading South"), Jeanne Balibar ("The Duchess of Langeais"), comedy sketch artist Marina Foïs, Linh Dan Pham ("Indochine," "The Beat That My Heart Skipped"), Karin Viard ("Time Out"), Karole Rocher ("Stella") and Julie Depardieu ("Blame It on Fidel!," "The Witnesses"), but make no mistake, Le Besco is the center of her own film.  This is a faux documentary, a mix of real interview (Rampling) and staged situations (Viard is quite funny goosing her ego and crafting a painful English language audition).  French rapper JoeyStarr costars as Le Besco's mate, critical of her parenting skills (she forgets her son Romeo's birthday party), and actors Pascal Greggory ("Gabrielle") and Jacques Weber along with directors Bertrand Blier ("Too Beautiful for You") and Yvan Attal ("My Wife Is an Actress") all appear as themselves.  If you do not recognize at least 50% of these names, your enjoyment of the film may be greatly diminished.

Le Besco tells Rampling that one does not become an actress if one is not neurotic and then attempts to prove this.  First up is Karin Viard working on an apparently fictitious film with Blier, who directs her to two totally different performances as she milks a cow(!).  Maïwenn asks Blier if a quote from Isabelle Huppert that all directors need to be in love with their actresses is true.  As a film about French actresses is lacking without Huppert, this is Le Besco's namecheck.  Catherine Deneuve will be far less pleased with hers.  Later, Marina Foïs moans about the impossibility of lighting laugh lines and says she must use Botox to compete against the likes of Cecile de France and Marion Cotillard and Julie Depardieu describes giving birth as a Catherine Breillat movie.

Viard has a lot of fun sending herself up, professing that France has grown too small for her and that she needs to break into the U.S. market.  Scenes like these segue into fantastical studio-set musical numbers.  The film is amusing, the musical numbers inventive, but it is also self-indulgent and full of inside jokes.  One wishes that Le Besco had aimed for some real truths along with sending up the cliches.

B-

Robin:
Robin gives "All About Actresses" a C+.
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