Belle Toujours: Catherine Deneuve Sings and Dances and Kisses Fanny Ardant in 8 Women-And Talks about Her Relationships with Women Onscreen and off. (Film)

By Duralde, Alonso | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), October 29, 2002 | Go to article overview

Belle Toujours: Catherine Deneuve Sings and Dances and Kisses Fanny Ardant in 8 Women-And Talks about Her Relationships with Women Onscreen and off. (Film)


Duralde, Alonso, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


Catherine Deneuve smiles as she opens the door to her hotel suite, and there's just no way to be jaded about being in the presence of this legendary screen goddess. Attending the Toronto Film Festival in connection with gay director Francois Ozon's sprightly musical mystery 8 Women, she exudes charm, sophistication, and the subtle sensuality that has made her a screen legend for nearly four decades.

The radiant beauty, who turns 59 in October--looking far better than someone half her age would have a right to, having just gotten off a plane from Paris--lights rite first in a series of slender French cigarettes and begins talking about her new movie and her amazing screen career. She's clearly enthusiastic about 8 Women, where she gets to strut around in her best lady-of-the-manor manner, decked out in a fabulous Christmas-with-Joan-Crawford gown. "The character is so far from me, it was something I really had to play," she admits.

Seeing Deneuve sing and dance recalls her work in Jacques Demy's new wave '60s songfests The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort, not to mention her appearance alongside Bjork in Dancer in the Dark. Equally as memorable, of course, are her sultry appearances in such intellectually erotic films as Belle de Jour and The Hunger but even then, she was all about the costumes. "I don't like nudity," she says. "I think that when you are nude you're not an actor anymore; you become a person. You relate to actors in a different way when thy are nude. And I don't find nudity erotic either."

But given the many highly sexual characters she's played onscreen, she's at least comfortable with her body, right? "No. No!" says Deneuve. "You don't see much of my body in films. I'm from the generation that started in films dressed. Actresses that started working in the '70s, you would be in a lot of flints where you would be naked or half-naked because that's how it was done, but I was not part of that generation. Francois Truffaut said there's a big difference between actresses who started in films naked, so it's normal to be naked on a set, and the ones who never get naked. And he said to me, `You belong to the other generation.' I agree. And it's also my preference."

8 Women crosses several generations as Deneuve joins seven other leading French actresses--including Fanny Ardant (The Women Next Door), Danielle Darrieux (Le Plaisir), and Emmanuelle Beart (Mission: Impossible)--to play the family and servants of a businessman whose mysterious murder kicks off the movie. Each of the titular femmes fatales has a motive, an opportunity--and a musical number. "We had a lot of fun working on fids [musical] part of the flint because we took it seriously, although it doesn't play seriously," Deneuve says.

But it wasn't just the dance sequences that required choreography. One of the film's most talked-about scenes is the cat-fight turned make-out session between Deneuve (the dead man's wife) and Ardant (the sister-in-law), where slap quickly runts into tickle. "We had some tension, Fanny and me, to do that scene together, but it came out very well. It was more like ballet than anything," reveals Deneuve. "It was not my first kiss in a film with a woman, you know, so that helped, [but] I suppose that actresses having to do a scene like that have a shyness that, maybe men would not have. …

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