Friday, May 27, 2005

Emmanuelle Devos

By chance, I once sat next to French actress Emmanuelle Devos at a film screening. It was a slightly unnerving experience.

She was petite, quietly dressed, and low-key--with not a thing that called attention to herself.

But movies are a medium of magnification. I had seen her in the Hitchcockian thriller Read My Lips, in which she won a Cesar (French equivalent of the Oscar) for playing a deaf-mute secretary. Onscreen, she was larger-than-life and charismatic, with a face you could never forget.

In fact, discussing the wonderful new French film Kings And Queen, Ella Taylor was entranced by her this week: "...she has a slack, ripe mouth, a mane of untidy brown hair and china-doll blue eyes that, on first acquaintance, seem vacant or evasive. Devos can vanish into herself and turn primly mousy, or blossom into ripe seductiveness, with a touch of the insolent slattern".

What unnerved me was the disconnect between her poetic, arresting screen presence and the prosaic, nearly anonymous person who sat next to me.