My Gerard Depardieu Film Festival

I must confess I have a soft spot for Gerard Depardieu. Make fun of him all you want—for peeing in a water bottle in a plane or for being a big French oaf—but it’s like making fun of romance novels. While you make fun, millions and millions of women around the world are devouring anything he does, just as they devour romances.

Yet Gerard is not one genre—not a romance hero, a good guy, or a bad guy—he’s just someone who has managed to make a lot of great movies over a whole lifetime. And he always manages to bring something to each movie that makes you feel it, even when it’s silly.

I can’t remember exactly which of his movies I saw first, although I suspect it was Green Card. I recently got to watch a few new ones, thanks to Amazon and Netflix. But what really started this resurgence of interest for me was reading that his son, Guillermo, passed away. I remember Guillermo vividly from Tous les Matins du Monde (All the Mornings of the World) and couldn’t believe that he had died. Then I saw that there was a movie starring both Gerard and Guillermo called A Loving Father, about a son who kidnaps his father in order to attempt a reconciliation and healing. I had to work up the courage to see that one and saved it till last…

My Gerard Depardieu Film Festival:

1. The Return of Martin Guerre (1982)—I start with this one because it is truly a great, horribly powerful movie where his erotic, passionate love shines the hottest. It could be I actually saw this first and was deeply moved. I still can’t even write about it without getting emotional. That’s all I’m going to say. I don’t want to be a spoiler.

2. Green Card (1990)—His most famous film in America. I just watched it for a third time with my middle child, who, yes, kept making fun of me for liking Gerard Depardieu. Suffice it to say…she liked it!

3. Camille Claudel (1988)—I am a sucker for any movie about a woman artist or writer. This was a good one. Depardieu plays Rodin, the sculptor and lover of Camille Claudel, who never quite got the recognition she deserved for the obvious female historic reasons. Worth watching.

4. Too Beautiful for You (1989)—A movie about a man who chooses to have an affair with a plain woman rather than stay loyal to his beautiful wife. Very slow, French, smart, and moody. What makes us love and desire someone? That is the question.

5. Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)—Classic fun, well done.

6. Vatel (2000)—Fascinating, beautiful—like a living painting: Depardieu plays the steward for a prince planning a party for Louis the XIV. Uma Thurman plays an interesting role.

7. Changing Times (2004)—One of my favorites, and the most French of the French movies. He plays a man pining for his old lover, who is now married to a doctor. Very complicated, but when Catherine Deneuve is playing his old flame, what’s not to love?

8. Last Holiday (2006)—This just goes to show what a great actor he is, that he can star in a totally cheesy American movie starring Queen Latifah and—is that LL Cool J? Get out!—and make it feel worth it. I forced myself to watch this one just to see how bad it could get, and it wasn’t too bad.

9. My Father the Hero (1994)—This was the first one I watched with my 15-year-old. Katherine Heigl plays his teenage daughter who wants him to pretend he’s her boyfriend/lover…crazy, stupid, French stuff. But please, wait until the end when you see who is on the other end of the phone! It made me cry with joy.

10. A Loving Father (2002)—A sad way to end a film festival, but what a treat to capture the real pain, sadness, and rage of a real parent-child relationship. At the end of the day, even actors are human, and you can see how someone who has spent a lifetime playing other people can have a very hard time being real and being there for his family.

I believe there are at least another 20 to 40 movies that I haven’t mentioned and haven’t seen. I don’t know if I’ll watch them all, but I’m glad to know they are there.

When I look at this list, I realize one of the things I like about Depardieu is that he plays complicated people. He’s not like those American actors who either play an action hero or a goofball, or who get into characters for an Oscar attempt. You can see Gerard approaching each role as if it’s who he is, for the love of it. And that’s what makes me feel the love right back at him.


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11 Responses to My Gerard Depardieu Film Festival

  1. kay August 6, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    nice, Maria. I would add Jean de Florette . . . .

  2. jo August 6, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    oh, to have just had a few morning moments with Depardieu…a lovely way to begin my day…thank you, Maria.

  3. Paula August 7, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    And one more you should see: My Afternoons with Marguerite.
    A quiet film just right for the flight I was on.

  4. Nancy P August 8, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    I recall reading an interview with him years ago in which he admitted to happily have participated in the gang rape of a girl. He may be a talented actor, however the idolization published by Rodale is very misplaced.

  5. Donna in Delaware August 8, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    My husband likes him, strangely enough, I’ve never cared for him.

  6. Christina December 20, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    Nancy, he admitted no such thing. A translator made an enormous error when putting the French interview into English. He has explained himself countless times.

  7. Lorraine January 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    Gerard Depardieu is a self-confessed and unapologetic gang rapist. TO HELL WITH HIM!! If he had confessed with true humility and apologized from the bottom of his heart, forgiveness would be possible. But he smirked his way through the interview and then tried to lie about it and slander the journalist who recorded his confession. Ladies, show some self respect! He’s a PIG.

  8. Beth February 8, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    I, too, am a huge fan. Back in the 90s when I was trying to spruce up my French, I saw many of movies and there were a lot more available on VHS. The Woman Next Door, and several films he did with Pierre Richard directed by Francis Veber, Danton, a brilliant intrepation of the larger-than-life revolutionary.

    About that rape charge: I think he is at least guilty of trying to portray a “French bad boy” image and actually thought it would be enticing. I speak enough French and recall when this controversy occurred and I don’t believe at all there was an error in translation. France has a much more narrow definition of rape than the US does, so the outrage shown at the time by the US makes us vulnerable to the usual idiotic European label of us as “prudes.” So, while the original interview left him highly deserving of the outrage he got, it wouldn’t surprise me if he exagerated and lied. The man is an absolute genius on film, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good man.

  9. Allison May 2, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Are you insane? The ‘man’ looks like a bloated pig. He is a gang rapist who tried to lie his way out of the mess he himself caused. So not only is a pile of dogshit more attractive than him, the pile of shit isn’t as stupid as him either. Not only do we as women have to deal with day to day sexism from men but the sexism from women themselves is absolutely terrible. Indoctrinated into the attitude ‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’What an example for your daughter you make……congrats looking at Gerard Depardieu without vomiting.

  10. Abby August 23, 2017 at 7:48 pm #

    It’s ridiculous the lengths people go to excuse rapists. Women are never believed when they accuse a man of rape. And in this case, the man even admitted to being a rapist and people are still defending him with shit like ‘oh, he’s not a rapist, he was just exaggerating’. Jesus fucking Christ.

  11. david February 23, 2019 at 7:22 pm #

    if im not mistaken it was simply a one word mistranslation. what he actually said was that when he was 9 years old and more or less a street urchin he WITNESSED a r a p e but this word witnessed got mistranslated into PARTICIPATED.

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