Mathieu Amalric | France
Still pouring through contextual material, Yves’ (Mathieu Amalric) directorial ideas for the biopic of legendary French singer-songwriter, Barbara are precise. As are those of consummate method actress Brigitte/Barbara (Jeanne Balibar). The director and actress argue and debate the character’s chameleon traits. Lines blur on set, off set. Barbara, “I didn’t write the lines”; Yves, “she kissed me once.” When “it’s a wrap” is called, the crew quickly wraps scenes, or patiently packs up and en masse leaves for the next location. Roles shift as subtly as sunlight, and the camera circling the singer. A prima donna, Brigitte/Barbara’s tempestuous temperament is insatiable. Music fondles words, “I love you,” and “time flies.” Continuously on the move, one leading, one following, and vice versa. Everything is how she likes it, accompanied by poetry driven stanzas rippling over melodious piano arrangements.
A film within a film that’s worth seeing, just to hear the music, BARBARA is based on the life of Monique Andrée Serf, whose stage name—Barbara—was borrowed from her grandmother. The leggy Chanson-singer left a rich legacy; her song, L'Aigle Noir—in twelve hours sold a million albums—was adapted and sung in many languages. Christophe Beaucarne’s camerawork and François Gédigier’s editing is solid, Vincenzo Bellini’s music superb. Mathieu Amalric’s directed one of the best French films I’ve seen in a long while, and certainly worthy of the Cannes Un Certain Regard - Poetry of Cinema Award.