Jean-Louis Trintignant she began to die in 2003 when her daughter Marie’s husband beat her to death: “I’m 70 years old, I’m tired. I am closing the business and my life has no meaning,” Trintignan said at the time.
It could be said that although it is related to the Nouvelle Vague, it is on its periphery. He was not as sparkling as Alain Delon or Jean Paul Belmondo, the most popular of his generation. But Trintignant was, from his personal humility, a gigantic actor who created memorable characters in about 150 films, not only French, but in all of European cinematography, when European cinematography reached its best definition.
His great therapy and “true trade” was reading poems in Parisian theaters.
Trintignan never received an Oscar. She never received a Golden Globe. She won the Silver Bear for best performance at the 1968 Berlin Film Festival for Alain Robbe-Grillet’s “The Man Who Lies”; the following year the award for best male performance at the Cannes Film Festival for “Z”, the film by Costa-Gavras, starring Yves Montand, Trintignant and Irene Papas. And finally, “Amour” (2012), by Michael Haneke, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes and starring Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Huppert.
Now he has died at the age of 91, some say in Uzés, in Provence, others in Collins, in the canton of Remoulins.
His first wife was the actress Stéphane Audran, then the director Nadine Marquand with whom he had three children: Marie (murdered), Pauline (died as a baby) and Vincent.
After divorcing Marquand, he married a third marriage with a racing driver, Marianne Hoepfner.
Trintignan died at his home in Uzès, in the south of France, “serenely, of old age, surrounded by his loved ones,” his wife said in a statement.
Enigmatic. Parco. Sometimes dark. He specialized in gloomy and often unpleasant characters. He was at one time an inveterate lover of race cars. He even competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans.
In 1950 Trintignan had gone to Paris to study theater (a kind of fight against shyness) and left a mark of almost 70 years of art on the big screens and in the theater scenes. In 1951 she made her debut in Paris with Schiller’s “Maria Stuart” and five years later on the big screen with “Si tous les gars du monde” by Christian-Jaque.
“Being a blank page, starting from nothing, from silence. Therefore, one does not need to make a lot of noise to be heard”, he once wrote about his peculiar acting method.
Directors like the Greek Costa-Gavras, his countrymen the French François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, the Italian Bernardo Bertolucci, the Austrian Haneke, the Polish Krzystof Kieslowski sought him out.
In 1956 he shot “And God Created Woman” with Brigitte Bardot, directed by the actress’s husband, Roger Vadim, with whom he repeated in 1960 -after his time in the Algerian war- in “Dangerous Liaisons”. He starred with “Il sorpasso” (1962), by the Italian Dino Risi, “A man and a woman” (1966) by Claude Lelouch, a film that won an Oscar, starring Trintignan alongside Aymee Anouk, whose continuity occurred half a century later, when under the same direction, both actors made “The most beautiful years of a life”, he sick with cancer and 88 years old, and she 87. The reunion of the former lovers was filmed in a long 19-minute sequence shot stuck to the most absolute reality.
Trintignant was a fake Christian in Eric Rohmer’s “My Night with Maud” (1969). In “El conformista” (1970), by Bernardo Bertolucci, he was a sinister assassin of the Duce. Then “The angry lamb” (1974), by Michel Deville and “Deep waters” (1981) by the same director, he had perverse roles. In “Challenge the Law” (1975), by Jacques Deray alongside Alain Delon, he plays a serial killer and in “The Terrace” (1980), by Ettore Scola, a depressed screenwriter. In the comedy “Confidentially yours” (1983), François Truffaut’s last film, he was not a character that caused laughter either. There was something dark about him, which was his best delivery area. The French critic Jean-Luc Douin said of him that if he smiled, that smile had “something carnivorous”.
It is followed by “Three colors: red” (1994), by the Polish Krzystof Kieslowski and “Those who love me will take the train” (1998), by Patrice Chereau.
In 2012 the Austrian Haneke convinces Trintignan to start shooting again and they make “Amour”, an excellent film, terrible in that it shows old age and loneliness, the bitterness of misanthropy. The film wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes, an award that the director decides to share on stage with Trintignant and her partner Emmanuelle Riva.
In 2017, Haneke convinces him again for “Happy End”. And in 2019, at the age of 88, he returns to Cannes with Anouk Aimée and Claude Lelouch for the premiere of “The Most Beautiful Years of a Life”.
The perfect closure of an actor’s life.