Usually at Miami Dade College’s Miami International Film
Festival, directors are the star attraction for films premiering in the middle
of the week, but earlier this week, Quebecois writer/director Guy Édoin had no
problem resigning himself to standing in the shadow of World Cinema royalty:
Monica Bellucci. She was the third subject in the festival’s new "marquee
series," featuring big names from the world of cinema in conversation before
the start of their film. Bellucci and Édoin were at the festival for his second feature
film, "Ville-Marie," in which Bellucci plays an actress struggling with an
estranged son while playing a role directed by her lover that’s a sort of
heightened reality of her own life.
The festival’s marquee events unfolded at various venues
across Miami, but Bellucci was granted the its grandest theater, The Olympia in
downtown Miami, the city’s first silent movie house, built 90 years ago. It features
two tiers of baroque balcony seating that accommodates over 1,500 attendees.
Though the event did not sell out, the audience was large and adoring enough to
drown out Bellucci’s conversation with Édoin, especially during her lingering
commentary embracing her age (a glorious 51) and her status as a working mother
of two children.
The night began with a quick introduction by the festival’s
director of programing, Jaie Laplante, who invited Édoin to the stage. Just in front of the audience, Bellucci gracefully sat
upright and regal in a semi-sheer black, curve-hugging Dolce & Gabbana evening
gown. Édoin went through a brief history
of her career, reminding attendees of her time in the ‘80s as a model and
mentioned a few of her subsequent films, including "Irreversible" and "Passion
of the Christ."
During his introduction, Édoin said there was no one else he
wanted for the role of his character Sophie. "Three years ago, when I was
writing my script for ‘Ville-Marie,’ in my heart, no one else could play the
role," he said. "I present to you Monica Bellucci." The actress then stood up from her
seat and was escorted to the stage. The director and actress met at a coffee
table on stage, with Bellucci’s face projected behind them on the big screen in
a still from the film that features her character singing at a microphone as a
single tear is captured streaming down her right cheek.
premiere of "Ville-Marie." Bellucci started the conversation by speaking to the
crowd. "I’m so glad to be here in Miami because we have sun, sea, beautiful
people, and I’m very flattered, so thank you," she said to a round of applause.
Édoin asked her about the role in his film, and she offered, "When we are in a good moment in life, the right roles come along…The
character I play, she’s actually three roles in one. This woman, she’s an
actress, but she’s also a simple woman looking for herself, and she’s a mother
and she wants love, too. Actually, if I had to play this role 15 years ago, that
would have not been in possible, which is to say I’m getting older and also
given the fact that I’m not a young woman anymore, my body gives some strength
and some reality to express the pain that this woman has inside herself."
The audience interrupted with applause, before she summed
up, "I think to be a good mother is more difficult to be an actress, to be anything
Then the applause returned. The adoring crowd was on her
side throughout. When Édoin referred to the actress as a young mother, she stopped
to correct him to laughs and more clapping from the audience.
She said, in fact, motherhood (she has two children with
French actor Vincent Cassel) was important in inspiring and informing her performance
in this film. "For this character, the inspiration was my experience as a
mother, of course, but also love for my children. As a mother in real life of
two girls, their ages are 11 and a half and five and a half, and in the movie I
play a different type of mother. I am the mother of a young boy, 20 years old.
In France they say, sometimes it’s so painful when this kind of relationship is
not good. For me in real life, it’s not. It’s all hugs and kisses."
The evening happened to fall on International Women’s Day,
and Édoin mentioned the fact. Bellucci, in turn, struck a positive and hopeful
note for the film business and actresses. She dropped the names of Catherine
Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Charlotte Rampling, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Julianne
Moore,and Cate Blanchett. "So you can see actresses are getting a chance to
play beautiful strong roles," she said, "so you can see the industry is
changing, and there’s much more respect for women and actresses."
Toward the end of the conversation, Édoin mentioned her role
in "Spectre" and how it might be different to play such a big role compared to
that of the roles she has played in smaller films. "For me," she said, "there
aren’t small films or big films. For me, there are just interesting roles. When
I’m in front of the camera, it doesn’t change anything for me. If I’m acting,
I’m acting for the role, it doesn’t matter."
And once again the audience
punctuated her sentence with adulation.