Friday, June 01, 2007
Au Revoir, Jean-Claude, 1933-2007
The death of the wonderful French actor, Jean-Claude Brialy, at age 74 on Wednesday in Paris is yet another reminder of how we're losing a little bit of the French film community every day.
It's been said that American stars aren't what they used to be - that, as Davis, Hepburn, Bogart, Fonda and Brando have passed on, there is no one who has truly replaced them. This sense of urgency and panic is even more acute in France.
I became aware of it when Jean Gabin died. That was the end of a great era in French filmmaking, I thought. Matters got more desperate when Yves Montand and Simone Signoret passed, but I was comforted by the fact that we still had relative newcomers Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve.
While someone like Patrick Deware died young, there was Isabelle Huppert, his contemporary, who has prevailed.
But each year, I become aware that few new French stars have emerged and when someone as valuable as Brialy passes, there's the feeling that something important is being lost. Depardieu and Deneuve are still active, Jeanne Moreau pops up occasionally, but Jean-Louis Trintignat hasn't sparkled in years.
And where is the unique and indispensible Bernadette Lafont? Michel Piccoli? I miss you, Delphine Seyrig! R.I.P.
No, the New Wave isn't new anymore. It isn't even old.
It doesn't even exist.
But, for now, let's reflect on its greatness, and Jean-Claude Brialy's place in it.
I suggest you rent Eric Rohmer's irresistible "Le genou de Claire" ("Claire's Knee"), Brialy's greatest triumph, and mourn what we have just lost.
(Artwork: Sincerely, Jean-Claude; Brialy as a bright, promising young actor; poster art for "Claire's Knee"/"Le genou de Claire")
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Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com
Posted by joe baltake at 4:49 PM