Here's hoping Kristin Scott Thomas comes to TIFF every year with an amazing performance in a French film.
Last year, in I've Loved You So Long, she played a woman just released from prison who was slowly reentering life. Her control and precision were staggering; just a look from her wounded eyes suggested volumes.
Now, in the equally fine Partir (screening September 16 at 9:45 am at the Scotiabank 2, September 18 at 1:45 pm, Varsity 8) , she swings in the opposite direction. Suzanne (Scott Thomas) has brought up her children and nurtured her physician husband in their sleek, upper-middle class home when suddenly she discovers love for the first time with a Spanish handyman (Sergi López). It's an age-old story but told very well. And watching Scott Thomas's character in the presence of her lover, it's as if she's coming alive for the first time.
"In last year's film my character was very closed down and solitary, rejecting the advances of her sister and a man," says the actor, looking elegant and comfortable in a hotel suite. "Suzanne, on the other hand, is going out all the time, looking for love and people. She wants more and more."
While she still makes films in England - last year's Easy Virtue, for instance - she doesn't feel as challenged by most of the scripts offered her.
"I seem to have been pigeonholed into playing the class card, which I find really tedious," she says. So working on stage - she won an Olivier Award for her turn in Chekhov's The Seagull, which later traveled to Broadway - and in French films have rejuvenated her career.
"It's my experience, but I think it's difficult for many women of my age," she says. "But this means I don't have to be wistful in any way, thinking, ‘Oh, life was so lovely when I was young and beautiful.'"
The wrenching Partir also includes several intimate nude scenes.
"It's harder in some respects and easier in others," she says about filming a nude scene in her late 40s as compared to earlier in life. (Who could forget the bathtub scene in The English Patient?)
"It's harder because I have a greater apprehension as to what is going to really frighten people," she says. "And at the same time I had less because it was Catherine [Corsini, the director], the focus puller was a woman, and I felt we were all doing this together. It wasn't just me and Sergi being prodded and made to perform. It was a really controlled and caring atmosphere. It was a lot easier than feeling a little bit exploited as a younger woman and feeling like everyone's looking at you and judging whether you're hot or not."
She pauses at that then laughs modestly.
"When you're beyond the hot or not stage that's easier too." [rssbreak]