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Her Business Is Seduction


Deneuve today.  

But the movie is camp, and Deneuve will never be: She doesn’t have the right transgressive exuberance, the joy in travestying the kind of traditional feminine behavior on which she’s built her career. She’s entertaining in that dog-walking-on-its-hind-legs way.

That night at BAM, she is terse but charming at a Q&A after Potiche, her umpteenth pairing with Gérard Depardieu. “He is very embarrassed by his physical appearance [Depardieu is big as a house these days], but at the same time he is very light.” When it’s time to introduce the seminal slasher movie Repulsion, she talks for less than two minutes. She says Polanski was “very precise” and that, as an accomplished actor himself, he gave her line readings and gestures and moved her around, and that she did what he wanted and it wasn’t as grueling as it looked and sometimes even cheerful.

A disappointingly scant presentation, but characteristic—and, in its way, likable. Deneuve won’t go back in time to relive the experience for an audience, the way a natural actress would. Her business is seducing by withholding, giving us her tantalizing image and little else. Wouldn’t anything more be a letdown?


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