Wednesday, July 22, 2015


When I first saw Daniel Auteuil he struck me as being close to a nothing.  He played a nephew to the Yves Montand character in "Jean de Florets" and "Manon of the Spring" and bottom line couldn't get the girl he loved.  One thing that struck me at the time was the critical importance of a source of water and the plot revolves around access to it, but of course there is deception and romance.  That was one of the best pair of movies ever in my recollection and helped remind me of Daniel when I saw him in a completely different role.

Again he was not a likeable guy, but in "The Valet" he was funny.  He played a man two timing his smart wife (Kristin Scott Thomas)  in a clever French comedy.

He was a central character in "Caché," not really likeable, but a little sympathetic as he was haunted by some past misdeeds and was seemingly terrorized.  Juliette Binoche played his wife.  Directed by Michael Haneke.

Looking for horse movies I came across Daniel playing an important supporting role in "Jappaloup" written by and starring Guillaume Canet.  It was a typical sports type of story (from rags to riches), but very well told and one of the best horse movies.

What prompted this post was his involvement with another three Marcel Pagnol novel inspired movies.  I was surprised to learn that Daniel wrote the script and directed the movies.  In each movie he plays an important role, but not the star.  They are all enjoyable; "Marius" "Fanny" and the "Well Digger's Daughter."  I understand he is planning another to be named "Caesar" which is the character he played in "Fanny" and "Marius."  Marcel Pagnol also wrote the novels for" Jean de Florette" and "Manon of the Spring"  all period pieces that reflect a past that might all too easily be forgotten.  You can see a comic touch in the later movies, but also some serious drama.

Those movies gave me more respect for Daniel both for his acting and commitment to good projects. His stature in French cinema was earned and he is using this leverage to work on interesting scripts.  He is well respected and my search continued.

In "36th Precinct" played against Gerard Depardieu as police using dirty tricks trying to get ahead.  Daniel's real daughter played a small role at the end.

"The Girl on the Bridge," a black and white film with Vanessa Paradis.  A man rescues a suicidal woman and turns her into a circus act with him throwing knives at her.  Surreally interesting with the topic and their relationship and communication.

"The Lookout" sees Daniel playing another cop with less than altruistic motives.  This received mixed reviews and was a bit confusing with many twists.  I enjoyed it.

"My Best Friend" with Dany Boon.  No one likes Daniel and to win a bet he tries to learn how to be a friend, but only after making making goofs and demonstrating his ever calculating mind.  Remade by Hollywood, but reviewers claim this one is better.  I enjoyed it.  Dany Boon, a well known stand up comic had a supporting role in "The Valet"

"The Closet" had a premise that is gradually fading, but in 2001 France could get some laughs.  Man is fired, but by pretending to be gay is hired back by employers afraid of a discrimination lawsuit (they manufacture condoms).  Stereotyping is minimized, but lots of misunderstandings and complications that make for a twisting plot.  Daniel plays the lead, a loser who finally wins some attention.

Daniel was born in Algiers to opera singers in 1950.  A number of French actors have an Algerian background.  He started in 1974 with many television roles.

So far every movie I have seen with Daniel in it has artistic merit and at one level or another is enjoyable.

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