She’s a confusing parent in any era, not always great at raising happy offspring, even when she’s quite lovable in her own right. Whether Madeleine is shopping, grieving, or sneaking into a hotel, Deneuve is the reason we’re here – something she knows and wears lightly.
And I love that she’s still here. Having appeared in more than 100 films, Deneuve’s a trouper who never allowed her astonishing beauty to make her lazy. Her 60′s musicals - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg; The Young Girls of Rochefort – show off her dewy perfection. Two decades later, as the glam vampire Miriam Blaylock, she seduces Susan Sarandon in The Hunger while hiding her husband (David Bowie ) in a coffin: so 80′s!
More recently, in Potiche, clad in a red track suit, Deneuve portrayed a trophy wife of a certain age, married to a pompous factory owner. She enjoyed her role as Carole, the memorable nutjob in Roman Polanski’s terrifying Repulsion. Then again, 2004 brought a biopic about Princess Marie Bonaparte, who financed Sigmund Freud’s escape from the Nazis and did some pioneering (if strange-sounding) research into the nature of female orgasm. And she found time to work with Bjork (Dancer in the Dark) and Burt Reynolds (who she said had “a great sense of humour, for an American.”)
Men she’s collected so far include ex-husband Roger Vadim, photographer David Bailey and …. surprisingly, Clint Eastwood, of all people. In 1971, when abortion was still illegal, Deneuve famously signed The Manifesto of the 343, boldly declaring “I have had an abortion,” which exposed her to prosecution. Fifteen years later, she was the national symbol of France, chosen as the model for Marianne. Despite her support for Segolene Royal in 2007 – “it was not really for her as a person, it was for her as a woman” – you can’t predict how Deneuve will respond to a question. She prefers Mademoiselle – Madame being as close as it gets to Ms in France – and has never disowned her Cinderella gig, as narrator of the fairytale for a Disney album. In a 2010 interview – “J’adore!” – she made it pretty clear that she never will.
Why should you love Catherine Deneuve? Why should you see Beloved? Simply because she truly knows how to live.