CINE-CLUB – Barbara – March 26

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Date/Time
Date(s) - 26/03/2019
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Location
Alliance Française Auditorium - Free entry - Open to all

Categories


Plot: Brigitte is preparing for the role of the famous French singer Barbara. The actress carefully studies the character, gestures, manners, and intonations. She learns the music scores, mimics her facial expression, but, as Brigitte does  more and more of it, she gradually merges with the character. The director is also preparing to shoot the film: he studies archival footage and painstakingly selects the music. He is inspired and even possessed—but with Barbara or with her new incarnation?

 

Cast:  Jeanne Balibar, Mathieu Amalric, Vincent Peirani

 

Biography, Drama, Music | 1h38 | France

French with English subtitles

Free and open to all

 

While her star continues to shine brightly in France 20 years after her death, the singer Barbara remains a lesser-known artist in other parts of Europe, not to mention on the other side of the pond. Presumably the producers of “Barbara ” knew that and won’t be expecting brisk sales even with the opening slot in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. Designed as a sort of meta-film in which Jeanne Balibar (refreshingly unaffected) is an actress playing Barbara in a film made by an obsessed director — Mathieu Amalric doing double duty as actor and director — the movie lightly plumbs that dangerously unsettled space between performing and literally being the protagonist in a biopic. “Barbara” is also a tribute to the singer’s prodigious talent and her undiminished emotional pull, but will struggle to find ticket buyers beyond her francophone fan base.

Jeanne Balibar’s uncanny performance as French chanteuse Barbara anchors this fan-targeted film that plumbs the unsettled space between performing and being the protagonist in a biopic.
 
While her star continues to shine brightly in France 20 years after her death, the singer Barbara remains a lesser-known artist in other parts of Europe, not to mention on the other side of the pond. Presumably the producers of “Barbara” knew that and won’t be expecting brisk sales even with the opening slot in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. Designed as a sort of meta-film in which Jeanne Balibar (refreshingly unaffected) is an actress playing Barbara in a film made by an obsessed director — Mathieu Amalric doing double duty as actor and director — the movie lightly plumbs that dangerously unsettled space between performing and literally being the protagonist in a biopic. “Barbara” is also a tribute to the singer’s prodigious talent and her undiminished emotional pull, but will struggle to find ticket buyers beyond her francophone fan base.
 
It’s hard to find a singer outside of France to compare to Barbara: In her heyday, from the 1960s up until her premature death in 1997, she was a performer whose songs uncannily put words to the deeply personal emotional states of her listeners. Her diction was perfect, the clarity of her voice pure, tender, almost fragile, and yet absolutely sure of itself. She would sing of love found or broken, of childhood memories, death, even of brotherhood. It’s claimed her hit “Göttingen” was fundamental in putting to bed post-war French-German tensions. In the 1980s, she boldly worked to counter the stigma of AIDS, and her song “Sid’amour à mort” became a sort of anthem for activists. Her slight frame invariably dressed in black, matching heavily made-up eyes boldly set in her pale, aquiline face, Barbara was adored by her fans and many who worked with her. Just this year Gérard Depardieu, a one-time collaborator who waxes lyrical about their friendship, has been on-stage performing his homage, “Depardieu chante Barbara.”
 
The film within the film drops casual hints of the singer’s life, from her childhood hiding from the Nazis, her difficult relationship with her mother (Aurore Clément), fainting when Jacques Brel died, occasional panic before going onstage, etc. Missing in any meaningful way are her relationships, the loves that inspired her to write the words which millions have taken to heart as their own. But this isn’t meant to be a biography, and the target audience is people so familiar with her life and career that they can recognize elements of her life as much as notes in her songs.