Caroline Cellier, spun star – Culture / Next

In 1977, alongside Françoise Sagan, whose only feature film and adaptation of the novel she had just finished the blue ferns, she confides on a TV set: “There aren’t that many female roles. When there are some, they’re big productions with stars – I’m not a star at the moment – and then, if they’re small productions, I mean low-budget, then at that time , it is done in a group; they are directors who know actors, they do it together and it’s very difficult. So as I am neither part of the one nor the other… ” In order to the interview collected by the INA, she evokes one of these “Difficult little films” which lacks the funding of the last days of filming to complete it.

We must find this film since finished but became in the long run invisible to Jacques Davila, where it works wonders in the middle of the wonders called Bernadette Lafont, Zouzou, Anémone and Micheline Presle: Some news (finally released in 1979), one of the rare French films to evoke the Algerian war. When she gives this interview, ten years ago she shot with Chabrol, in young premiere that the cinema, unless it was not her hard work on the boards, did not give her time to be. The young white prey of Let the beast die, in the shadow of the ogre Yanne and the pernicious Duchaussoy, erased, skeptical and already frowning, she is the lamb unscathed from the wolf and the sheepfold. Chabrol will return to service next to the man of his life in Lavardin, Poiret in Chicken In Vinegar, where both were conversing with a love of humor shining in the ironic eyes of old accomplices of life.

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Embarrassment of pretty woman to be pretty

She said she was a very shy woman whom the theater had freed. This shyness that many actresses say and admit, whose hands we see in archived interviews wiggling, twisting, or rummaging through the void of too high armrests. A sort of pretty woman’s embarrassment to be pretty and to feel limited by that, like many actresses of her generation (Pisier, Ogier, Audran, Seyrig, so many others). Prisoner, because much smarter than that. And yearning for so much more. Having, then, in her spare time as a wise student, a model high school student, truant, attended the Simon course, fascinated by comedy to the point of dreaming of the existence of a theater. Caroline, born Monique, Cellier, is of modest extraction. But when she obtains her baccalaureate, she leaves everything. His university this time full-time will be under the permanent and continued auspices of René Simon. But she will have to wait for the 80s, and modern roles of women, independent, strong and lost. These characters who paid or to whom the fictions of the time made them pay dearly for their freedom at all levels, professional, sexual, sentimental. These “nobody’s women”, like the title of a generational film by Christopher Franck in 1984, to the unforgettable little music of Georges Delerue where she was masterfully mild stubbornness, with her colleagues in medicine and sentimental disappointments Fanny Cottençon and Marthe Keller.

Caroline Cellier has spelled out titles without knowing it – or perhaps she left us in her great mischievous elegance and amused the care of detecting it at the moment of this sorry tribute – worth bestiary: zebra, Let the beast die, the year of jellyfish, Chicken In Vinegar, Didier (story of a labrador taking human appearance). Sometimes good cinematographic animals (the film of Chabat, Poiret), sometimes enough to make us turn crazy but striking. If Valérie Kaprisky and her enterprising manners with tanned and wet skin, contortionist of her salt baits and sprawling temptress, gave pride of place to the jellyfish in the title, the mother – we did not yet say the Milf – camped by Cellier, femme-poisson on her sandbank, biding her time, pensive and incapturable, eyes always half-open or half-closed in her indistinguishable aspiration of ongoing awakening or desired drowsiness, is the reptilian with soft skin, to be compared to a legendary fairy: Mélusine. Legendary and adored but that the well-kept secret ended up burying. There are secretly adored actresses whom we say to ourselves that the cinema was not up to the task, will not have been able to give them the place that they invented, just for her and that she nevertheless offered to the cinema on a tray. It is true of Caroline Cellier, free electrone of the Franchouillard universe, provincial spirit of certain or of certain quality (from Christopher Frank to Claude Chabrol).

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Precious and erased career

The cracked Italian voice aggravated by cigarettes. Always on the verge of not being there. Appearing elsewhere, mind vague, floating in an aerial distance that could only be identified as the height of sexy. Sexy is the first word that comes, stupidly, like the titles of “stupid” films, evoking Caroline Cellier, as if with her the term acquired a more unfathomable depth, a kind of intelligence made woman and acme of eroticism. This firm fatigue of great beauty and sparing of its light, like another precious and effaced career: Jacqueline Bisset. There are comedies to be rehabilitated, because his “career” is probably less “failed” than it was missed by the spectator, like a whole precious and fragile part of French cinema, calling for the retreat of artistic works while it is cataloged at the time perishable because commercial. You have to watch your films again, too late but still, like Wind of panic, Big puppet, Pt’it Con, and especially zebra, this beautiful and unique film of actor – and companion of a lifetime: Jean Poiret with whom until mourning she shared hers. All the men, and all the women, wanted one day to be Jean Poiret in order to love Caroline Cellier with love and to laugh with her with this sensual and exhausted laughter. It was CC.

Camille Nevers


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