20 April 2024


Catherine Deneuve is arguably one of the most influential French actresses to have graced the medium of film. In a career which spans nearly six decades and over a hundred features, the highly prolific star has become renowned for her gripping portrayals and distinctive roles which in the process have gained her both critical and commercial acclaim. With wide-spread international praise and a number of awards to boot, she is quite rightfully regarded as one of the greatest actresses of her generation and her latest film POTICHE (released June 17th), has once again garnered the cinema veteran a lot of attention. In the lead up to the release, let’s have a look at some of her essential and career defining roles:

Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965): A young Denueve caused quite a stir and made a name for herself in this dark, mid-sixties psychological thriller. The first film in Roman Polanski’s loose “Apartment Trilogy” (followed Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant), Repulsion sees Deneuve play a sexually repressed young lady who goes slowly insane with surreal fantasies of seduction and rape.

Belle de jour (Luis Bunuel, 1967): Following up Repulsion by playing another aloof and mysterious beauty, Belle de jour sees Deneuve star as a woman who spends her days as a prostitute while her husband is at work. Winning the Golden Lion at the 1967 Venice Film Festival, the film has gone on to be a classic of World Cinema and in many ways could be argued as being the quintessential Denueve text.

The Hunger (Tony Scott, 1983): Almost two decades after the heady heights of success with Belle de Jour, Deneuve played an aging vampire alongside David Bowie and Susan Sarandon in Tony Scott’s debut feature, The Hunger. Critically panned at the time – with a particularly reviled sequence featuring Deneuve having to crawl around on all fours, slavering over cut throats – the film has since gone on to gather a cult following and, like every other 80s horror flick, is currently in the works of a remake.

Indochine (Regis Wargnier, 1992): Set in colonial French Indochina during the 1930s, Indochine follows the story of Elaine Devries (Deneuve) and her adopted Vietnamese daughter, Camille, who both fall in love with a young French army officer. Deneuve received high praise for her work on the feature and went on to receive a nomination for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.

Dancer in the Dark (Lars Von Trier, 2000): Deneuve’s 80th screen appearencewas this ultra-dark musical drama, which took all the glory at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. Directed by controversial Danish auteur Lars Von Trier (prior to his Nazi-based controversy at Cannes this year), Deneuve plays Cvalda, a factory worker who befriends a blind Czech immigrant (eccentric Icelandic songstress Bjork).

Potiche (Francois Ozon, 2010): Potiche marks a return to form for Deneuve and also sees her reunite with Francois Ozon with whom she previously collaborated on the excellent 8 Women. Based on Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy’s play of the same name, Deneuve takes centre stage in a story about a submissive housewife who gets to run her husband’s umbrella factory. A typically brilliant performance by Deneuve, Potiche is an incredibly assured and thoroughly enjoyable piece of filmmaking.


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