Jean-Louis Trintignant, a very discreet (anti) hero

In 1970, Jean-Louis Trintignant shot two diametrically opposed films, Le Conformiste and Le Voyou. The actor passed through them like a single man, mute and dark.

On the set of Conformist by Bernardo Bertolucci, recently published for the first time on Blu-Ray, Jean-Louis Trintignant gives Stefania Sandrelli an anecdote about Gary Cooper to relax her just before a take. The story in question, which surely belongs to legend, would come from the mother of the famous American actor and his epiphany that occurred one fine day in his kitchen. Young Gary then looked at his mother with burning intensity. Worried, she asked the son: What are you thinking about ? “. To nothing !“, would have replied the offspring. The progenitor of the greatest actor of all time claims to have immediately understood that her Gary would be an actor.

Jean-Louis Trintignant is dead: The Great Silence

“… Don’t think of anything! “, concludes Trintignant in front of a perplexed Sandrelli. This emptiness is a form of absolute, the Grail of actors who do not give a damn about the psycho-pipe theories of Strasberg, Kazan and others like their first recorders. This ” nothing “, Trintignant has made it a credo. Of course, that didn’t stop him from boasting with Vittorio Gassman, but it’s the great silence that, with him, takes precedence over everything. His playing while interiority amounts to putting his dark and drawling voice without the expressions of the face coming to support too much what has just been said. The mind and the whole body in a vaguely haughty self-esteem, put the odds and ends at a distance and melt tender hearts. Eric Rohmer who had just made him a Pascalian hero in My Night at Maud’s (1969) was about a made actor ” of lights and darkness. without saying where and how they arose. This deep mystery gives the illusion of evaporating in this year 70 where The Conformist by Bernardo Bertolucci and The thug by Claude Lelouch – also released for the first time on Blu-Ray – shot in a beautiful – and sad – stride, form an informal diptych, conducive to the unveiling of the actor. Trintignant, in the mauraviesque psychological drama of Bertolucci and the uninhibited comedy chabadabada of Lelouch, remains the same: a block of dropper emotions poured out in complete relaxation. The films and the viewer with them project onto this icy temperament everything and its opposite.

From there, something went wrong!

If the stride is beautiful, it is based on an unnamed sadness: the loss of a child. The Trintignant couple – Jean-Louis and Nadine – are in Rome for the filming of Conformist, in the fall of 69 when their newborn baby dies accidentally. Earthquake. ” From there, something was broken… I always tended to live without illusions… “, will tell Trintignant much later. The actor will therefore go through this film with pain in his heart. However – and this is where the actor is demented – it is a relative impassiveness that emanates from his double-locked face. To think of nothing, when everything inside you is only suffering, is marvellous. On the screen, the conformist Trintignant, a man without quality, a traitor in the service of fascism, wears a Stetson, a dark overcoat and advances mechanically in a gray world. Alberto Moravia’s novel follows, in fact, the criminal itinerary of Marcello, a young man traumatized by painful episodes in his childhood who intends to blend into the crowd. We are in the 1930s, fascism then embodies an ideal. Bertolucci: To be conformist is a kind of tension towards normality. In this bath where the unsaid makes waves, the actor is at home. To be ” normal », that is to say, invisible. Trintignant lands in the middle of the frame and sends back that light of darkness so much praised by Rohmer. ” An actor is not just someone who can play wellBernardo Bertolucci explained to us in 2015 when his film was released in France, it is the mystery that emanates from him that must make the difference.”

The most beautiful years: Claude Lelouch shoots the epilogue of A man and a woman

Except that this image that some consider romantic, Claude Lelouch wanted to twist it. Yet it was he who shaped the mold of the Trintignant lover with A man and a woman four years ago. It won’t. In The thugTrintignant is Simon says “ the Swiss ” as much for its precision in execution as its desire not to depend on anyone. The thug is the story of the incredible kidnapping of a child. Simon and his accomplices make his parents (Charles Denner and Judith Magre, exceptional) believe that they have won a competition and must recover their winnings – ” Thank you Simca! – at the Olympia at the end of a concert by Sacha Distel. Isolated in a big house near Paris, the innocent toddler will spend the best moments of his life. In this Thug much praised by Quentin Tarantino for the time of an ubiquitous screening at the Institut Lumière in Lyon in 2013, Lelouch uses a complex staging made of invisible flashbacks and climbs on one of the crest lines of his cinema: the criminal comedy (Adventure is adventure, happy new year, The cat and the Mouse…) Trintignant is there of course, from the opening. Without opening his mouth, except to specify to the young woman he is holding hostage (Danièle Delorme conquered) that he wants his beer ” without foam », he imposes the rules of the game.

Something Gary Cooper

Marcello, the conformist and Simon, the hoodlum, share the same ideal: self-effacement. Whether it is part of a stilted historical drama or an assumed joke does not change anything in the matter. Though. ” I did Le Voyou just after Le Conformiste and before the failure of the second Hamlet, which I thought about a lot during filming. », Explain the actor in his memoirs On the side of Uzes (Look for noon). ” It gave my role a style, an elegance and a distance that served the subject. “Behind the blue eyes of the Thug would there be Shakespeare? We’re going to be honest with you, it’s not that much to see, unless the very idea of ​​the specter that appears in Hamlet precisely symbolizes this force stretched between the visible and the invisible that characterizes Trintignant’s je(u) . Detail which is not one. The beginning of Thug takes place in a kitchen. Trintignant tranquilou, pierces Danièle Delorme with her gaze. There is no doubt that the mother of Gary Cooper will have seen here a resemblance to the son.

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