Les Femmes Essentielles

Tuesdays in November featuring three of the most legendary actresses of French cinema from three of the most impactful filmmakers of the French New-Wave.  


Hiroshima Mon Amour

Tuesday, November 5 at 7:30 PM

A new restoration of one of the classics of cinema, Hiroshima Mon Amour depicts a brief affair between a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) in the rebuilt and thriving Hiroshima of 1959. The couple’s bliss is slowly eroded by the unavoidable memories of the war and atomic mass destruction. From Director Alain Resnais.

Emmanuelle Riva (1927—2017) epitomized a new kind of female star, more realistic and intellectual, as opposed to the “sex kitten” stereotype of Bardot. After her star-making turn in Hiroshima Mon Amour, Riva appeared opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo in Melville’s Léon Morin, Priest. In 2012, Riva starred in Michael Haneke’s Amour, with Jean-Louis Trintignant, a role for which Riva received a multitude of awards, including an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and César and BAFTA Awards for Best Actress. In Alain Resnais’ groundbreaking work of the New Wave, Riva portrays a French actress researching a role in post-war Hiroshima. She enters into an affair with a Japanese architext (Eiji Okada) while experiencing flashbacks of a doomed wartime tryst with a German soldier.

1959. 92 min. Drama. NR

Pierrot Le Fou

Tuesday, November 12 at 7:30 PM at the State Theatre

Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo), unhappily married and recently fired from his job, abandons his family and runs off to the Riviera with the enigmatic Marianne (Anna Karina). Ferdinand, whom Marianne calls “Pierrot,” tries to find artistic fulfillment between bouts of criminal adventure, but keeps getting entangled in Marianne’s violent life. From Director Jean-Luc Godard.

Anna Karina left Denmark at age 18 to pursue a modeling career in Paris. She turned down a supporting role in Breathless, but accepted the lead in Godard’s second feature, Le Petit Soldat. They married the following year and their cinematic collaboration continued with six more features. When not working with Godard, Karina appeared in a variety of other films, including Visconti’s The Stranger, Vadim’s La Ronde, and Jacques Rivette’s controversial La Religieuse. In Pierrot Le Fou, her sixth collaboration with Godard, she plays the femme fatale role to its Godardian extreme: murdering, luring, seducing, abandoning, or playing the damsel-in-distress, all contributing to the unraveling sanity of her partner on-the-run, played with effortless cool by Jean-Paul Belmondo.

1965. 110 min. Drama/Crime. NR

Le Sauvage

Tuesday, November 19 at 7:30 PM at the State Theatre

Nelly (Catherine Deneuve) has second thoughts about marrying Vittorio (Luigi Vannucchi) and runs away with the help of Martin (Yves Montand). When Nelly’s attempt to secure a debt owed to her from a former employer goes sour, she steals a valuable painting and enlists Martin’s help to evade the men coming after her. From Director Jean-Paul Rappaneau.

Perhaps the most iconic of all French actresses, Catherine Deneuve worked professionally for seven uneventful years until Jacques Demy cast her in the classic Umbrellas of Cherbourg in 1964, vaulting her to international stardom. Plum roles would swiftly follow, for Polanski in Repulsion and for Buñuel in Belle de Jour and Tristana. In Le Sauvage, Deneuve plays a manic maiden in the best screwball tradition, fleeing her possessive Italian fiancé to hide out on a remote island with a quirky parfumier (Yves Montand). Tony Roberts and Dana Wynter (of Body Snatchers fame) round out this escapist comedy, one of France’s top box office hits of 1975.

1975. 106 min. Comedy/Adventure. NR