Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

My Wife is an Actress 2001

Ma femme est une actrice

Directed by Yvan Attal

France In French with English subtitles
95 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay


Claude Berri


Rémy Chevrin


Jennifer Auger


Charlotte Gainsbourg (Charlotte)
Yvan Attal (Yvan)
Terence Stamp (John)
Noémie Lvovsky (Nathalie)
Laurent Bateau (Vincent)


Toronto, San Francisco 2001; New Directors/New Films 2002


"‘I love the movies,’ says John in the writer and director Yvan Attal’s noisily enjoyable romantic comedy My Wife Is an Actress. It’s obvious that Mr Attal, who also stars in the film, loves the movies, too; he’s made a terrifically deft picture about the thick line that separates movie glamour from the real world, and the thin line between common sense and paranoia. 

Maybe it might be better to look upon Actress as the latest version of a much unremarked-upon subgenre: the jealousy comedy… John is co-starring with Yvan’s actress-wife, Charlotte (Charlotte Gainsbourg), in a romantic drama. And Yvan, like most mortal men in such situations, is being nibbled alive by jealousy. Yvan is a neurotic imp, a reporter for the Parisian version of ESPN. Everywhere they go, he’s reminded of his wife’s desirability. They’re constantly beset by autograph hounds. Even a policeman who pulls them over for a routine traffic stop is transformed into a gawker; the officer asks for Charlotte’s identification though Yvan is at the wheel. He guards his wife as if she were in a seraglio and his jealousy is evocative of such screwball comedies as Preston Sturges’ Unfaithfully Yours… His Actress is clearly in thrall to Woody Allen’s epic sketches of self-loathing, though the picture has a beckoning blast of energy that indicates it’s a response to the perky French sex farces in which jealousy passes like a spring rain… 

Ms Gainsbourg is a winning performer, too – a beguiling mixture of willowy plaintiveness and slightly irregular beauty lit up by a goofy smile. And she can’t understand why her husband is so upset. He makes himself the butt of the joke, a baleful puppy with a premature furrow in his brow… 

There are certainly parallels to be drawn between Actress and Mr Attal’s real life. Off camera, he’s actually married to his co-star, and the movie, presumably, must be partially a nightmare version of his own experience… ‘My wife’s in a cult,’ he sighs, miserably, on the train. But he is, too, and with My Wife Is an Actress, he does a fine job of inviting us to join him." — Elvis Mitchell, NY Times