SIFF Why I love Romain Duris
posted by May 18 at 20:20 PMon
Well, what’s not to love? Like his countryman Mathieu Amalric (Munich), the heavy-browed, hairy-chested Duris is attractive in an unconventional sort of way and incredibly versatile. He was charming as a shaggy drummer in When the Cat’s Away, believable as a brooding pianist in The Beat That My Heart Skipped, and hilarious as a lovelorn writer in Russian Dolls. You may also recognize him from L’Auberge Espagnole (the precursor to Dolls), Le Divorce, CQ, and Gadjo Dilo. This year, SIFF presents two Duris selections.
Molière, the closing night film, doesn’t exactly break new ground. It plays like a cross between Amadeus and Ridicule, but it isn’t as epic as the former or as nasty as the latter—though Ludivine Sagnier gives it her best shot. Still, it’s a pleasant enough way to pass the time and Duris, as ever, does a bang-up job. Molière represents one of those multi-faceted roles where an actor has to do literally everything—quip, cry, disguise his identity, and act badly (the dramatist is presented as a failed tragedian). You name it, Duris pulls it off.
My favorite part (and this probably says far too much about me) is his look in the thing. I couldn't say whether director Laurent Tirard is suggesting that Molière was one of the world's first rock stars—even though music wasn't his specialty—but Duris looks like nothing so much as freak folk sensation Devendra Banhart with a little Keith Richards and Nathan Shineywater (Brightblack Morning Light) on the side. He's all long hair, black eyeliner, chunky rings, and funky threads. I kept expecting him to burst into a warbly tune, but alas...
Duris also appears in Christopher Honoré's Dan Paris with Louis Garrel (The Dreamers). I caught Honoré's previous feature, Ma Mère (with Isabelle Huppert as Garrel's deranged "mère"), at the London Film Festival two years ago. It was a wildly entertaining mess, but I understand the filmmaker has since put a damper on some of his excesses. According to The New York Times, it features Duris's best performance to date, which means you really shouldn't miss it... assuming that fantastically talented Frenchmen are your forté.
PS: I resisted the urge to title this post How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman, in which case it would've been exactly three words long: Very tasty indeed. Also, the links to Molière and Dans Paris will take you to SIFF's official website for dates, times, prices, and additional information. The Stranger's guide will launch next week.