My Wife Is An Actress

How can a man love a woman who makes a living pretending to love other men? Not easily, if My Wife Is An Actress, the first film written and directed by Yvan Attal, is to be believed. Looking and acting a lot like a young Robert De Niro, Attal also stars as Yvan, the husband of a famous actress named Charlotte, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. Already uncomfortable sharing Gainsbourg with an adoring public, Attal becomes progressively more anxious as his wife prepares for a London shoot opposite a veteran star (Terence Stamp, not playing a character named Terence). It's a thin premise for an entire movie, but for a good chunk, at least, Attal and his willing cast make it work. As a director, Attal has a breezy, sophisticated touch, favoring long takes that allow his scenes to work up a comic head of steam. Even when Wife isn't actively funny—and for much of its first half, it is—the actors allow it to drift on its charm. Sadly, that thin premise snaps after a while, and when Wife takes a serious turn, it becomes apparent how little the director has to say. Odd, since the perils of fame should be well known to all involved. As the daughter of actress Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (one of France's most famous pop stars), Gainsbourg had fame thrust upon her at an early age, and in real life, she and Attal share a life and a child. The director keeps running into dead ends, however, spending time with subplots that don't go anywhere (acting classes for Attal, a debate over circumcising a child) and generating less and less sympathy for Attal's character, as his dilemma begins to look less like justified anxiety and more like the sort of paranoia best resolved in an institution. The director's light touch bodes well for future efforts, but here, it's too light for its own good. Still, it probably speaks well of Attal's relationship with Gainsbourg that a situation so close to their own provides so little dramatic fodder.

More DVD Review