“Jean-Louis Trintignant once confessed that he felt good in his last roles, because he played characters facing death, writing The Standard. At 91, the latter ended up winning.” The Austrian daily was among the first to react to the disappearance of the French actor, welcoming on the front page of its website “a legend of cinema”.
The British daily The Guardian, he too remembers above all the last performances of Trintignant. The actor had “a long and distinguished career on stage and screen, but his presence in cinema has never been stronger and more intense than in old age”, he explains. In his later roles, he “projected with renewed vigor a lively and natural intelligence, uninviting manners and an air of being politely, or not so politely, disgusted by the moral vacuity and hypocrisy of everything around him, as well as his own tragic and passionate sense of loss”.
“A wise old man”
Death, Jean-Louis Trintignant will therefore have rubbed shoulders with it for a long time, on the screen, but also in the city. He was even dead “1er August 2003, the same day as his daughter Marie”, assures the Swiss newspaper Time.
“That’s what he said, and we believed him, this tall old man, pale as a ghost, fragile as a dry leaf, whose deep gaze expressed pain and humanity with equal intensity.”
“Broken by the death of his daughter”, beaten to death by the musician Bertrand Cantat, Jean-Louis Trintignant was “became a very old man, inconsolable and full of greatness. A wise old man, write again Time.
Alongside the greatest
Other newspapers do not have the same taste for tragedy, and evoke the filmography of the actor-director before his personal life. In front of or behind the camera, Trintignant will have worked with the greatest. “He made himself known alongside Brigitte Bardot in And God created the woman [Roger Vadim, 1956] and bid farewell to Love [Michael Haneke, 2012]”, recalls the Spanish daily El Mundo. “Never drawn to fame, he nevertheless delivered memorable performances in A man and a woman, The Conformist [Bernardo Bertolucci, 1971], Z [Costa-Gavras, 1969]and more recentlyLove”, lists across the Atlantic The Hollywood Reporter.
For the Californian magazine, Trintignant was “an immensely prolific and respected talent”, a jack-of-all-trades artist, able to shine in auteur films as much as in romances for the general public, Shakespeare’s plays and commercial comedies. He was also a fervent lover of poetry, an art he served on stage many times, with his daughter Marie or solo, surrounded by musicians.
A unique look
Big shy claimed, the native of Piolenc, in the Vaucluse, was also “a star gifted for introspection”, adds The Hollywood Reporter. “He looked at the world with an attentive and tenacious gaze, which [dans ses films] always pierced his interlocutors up to date, nods The Standard. His eyes were his best instrument, and perhaps that’s why he was often given roles as an indecisive rival against dynamic and outgoing partners, like Vittorio Gassman in the comedy The Braggart [Dino Risi, 1963].”
Jean-Louis Trintignant never seemed to make much of his career, he who, a great fan of car racing, had struggled to get rid of the playboy image that had been stuck on him when he started out. The Guardian remembers the interview that the actor had granted to the daily newspaper at the exit ofLove, probably his last major role. “Trintignant concluded by sharply rejecting the idea that to love life is to love cinema: ‘If you love life, you’re not going to sit in the dark in a cinema, are you? Why would you want to do that? Go live your life instead!’”
But let’s leave the final word to the Swiss daily Le Temps: “In 2012, when Love won the Palme d’Or, Jean-Louis Trintignant split the award into four quarters plus for everyone who contributed to the film. Adding elegance to grandeur, he said a brief poem by Prévert: ‘What if we tried to be happy, if only to set an example?’ He’s not here anymore. But what if we tried anyway?