Sunday, November 6, 2011

Second Look: Charlotte Rampling

“You wake up one day, and you’re one day older,” says Charlotte Rampling. “You either accept it or you don’t.” Aging is just one of many topics including love, death and desire that the cult actress discusses in the new biographical documentary, “Charlotte Rampling: The Look".  Her musings are intercut with scenes from her many films, among them “Georgy Girl”, "The Verdict”, and “Under the Sand”.

The documentary is hardly a monologue, however. Director Angelina Maccarone brought together family, friends and confidantes—presumably of Rampling’s choosing--to stimulate the conversations. In one of the film’s segments on the subject of beauty, author Paul Auster tells Rampling, who turned 65 this year, she is as attractive now as at any age--and then quickly adds, like my wife (the writer, Siri Hustvedt). Described as an “exotic beauty” with “chilly sensuality” by reviewers, Rampling acknowledges in the documentary that she has avoided plastic surgery because, she says, everyone ends up looking the same. Her sultry hooded eyes may eventually keep her from seeing, she admits.

Earlier this year at Rome’s film festival where “Eye of the Storm”, another of her new films was screening, Rampling answered reporters' questions about growing older as an actress. “Who wants to grow old? Who wants to get lines?” In the movie, she plays a dying wealthy woman in her 70s in a dysfunctional family.” Rampling said that by allowing herself the “luxury” of being old, even ugly and unattractive while acting brought “extraordinary” rewards to the role. Rampling seems to have bypassed the film industry’s notorious age discrimination. Along with the documentary, she appears in two films that will be out soon. One is “Julia”, a thriller directed by her son Barnaby Southcombe. (In “The Look”, she and her son spar in some edgy but endearing acting exercises.) In the other movie “Melancholia“ from Lars von Trier, she plays the director’s now deceased mother whom he hated when she was alive.

Rampling has never shied away from controversial roles, whether it was “Max Mon Amour” where the title character was a gorilla or the infamous “The Night Porter". Legendary critic Pauline Kael described Rampling’s role in that movie as “degrading to women.” More recently, New York Times reviewer Stephen Holder said about Rampling in “The Look”: she's “an endlessly watchable mystery, an aloof but affable sphinx.”

1 comment:

  1. She's simply divine.

    In an interview I did not long ago with another expat actress of a certain age, she said if she didn't live in France she was sure she couldn't find work. She works often.

    Keep up the good work girls!