Saturday 16 December 2017

Superwoman Carla tries her hand at acting, badly

Carla's critics are very quick to point out her poor performance in a walk-on Woody Allen part, writes Aoife Drew

CARLA Bruni-Sarkozy's at it again. Expanding her CV, that is. Not content with 'just' being first lady, as well as her other careers of philanthropist, singer, songwriter, musician and ex-supermodel -- not to mention mother to nine-year-old boy, Aurelien, and step-mum to Nicolas Sarkozy's kids -- she can now call herself an actress too.

Filming began in Paris last week for American director Woody Allen's new £20m (€24m) movie Midnight in Paris. Starring Kathy Bates, Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard (currently France's most favoured actress, who won an Oscar for her performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose), the movie is essentially a romantic comedy focused on a family travelling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better. Mme Sarkozy has a small role as a museum curator.

Numerous onlookers flocked to the set in the charming fifth arrondissement of Paris as the 42-year-old shot her scene, in which she had to walk in and out of a grocer's shop, accompanied by Owen Wilson. Nicolas Sarkozy also arrived, tieless and tired-looking, to watch filming and encourage his wife.

Was her debut as an actress a success? Not if the British press are to be believed. Apparently, perfectionist Woody Allen made her repeat the scene at least 35 times because she kept 'hogging the camera' and staring into the lens rather than just getting on with the simple task of entering and exiting a grocery store holding a baguette.

This is the second time of late that Carla has been accused of monopolising the camera by the English tabloids. During the Sarkozys' visit to London in June to mark the 70th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's wartime call to arms, she was accused of upstaging the British prime minister's wife Samantha Cameron. Carla wore a stylish dove grey Dior shift dress, while Sam Cam donned a simple but elegant, maternity frock by an up-and-coming English designer. However, she looked somewhat matronly in comparison. Thanks to her supermodel background, Carla was able to pull out all the stops (pouts, hair-flicks, poses etc.) to help her win out over her English fashion opponent.

So, given Sam Cam's style defeat, the British press's derisory remarks on Carla's acting ability may be a case of sour grapes. On the other hand, the French press is much more confident of her future success. The French edition of Elle magazine reckons Woody and Carla will get on like a house on fire.

Apparently, Carla is very interested in psychology, just like psychoanalysis addict Allen, meaning they can discuss their neuroses or analyse their dreams together.

Both also have the common interest of music -- he plays the clarinet and she the guitar. Add the fact that Woody is fond of beautiful women (his leading ladies have included Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow and Scarlett Johansson) and her favour for influential men (counting rocker Mick Jagger and former French prime minister Laurent Fabius among her romantic interests) you've got a match made in Heaven.

Carla has, of course, not escaped without criticism from her compatriots. Les Guignols, the French version of Spitting Image, presented a hilarious sketch about Allen and Carla, cynically pointing to a possible reason why their relationship will be a hit. That is, if Allen feels a scene on the busy Champs Elysees could help the movie, or needs to shut down traffic along the quays of the Seine at rush hour to capture the light ideal for a romantic episode, Carla would be on hand to call up her powerful husband who could certainly help with ironing out hindrances such as filming permits, gathering around traffic police or speeding up any administration issues, which can be notoriously slow in France.

Other critics grumble that the Sarkozys should be off solving France's problems rather than prancing around a film set. Nonetheless, the presidential couple left their detractors behind them as they set off for their holiday at Carla's family holiday home at Cap Negre on the French Riviera last week.

Carla remains modest about her acting debut. "I am not an actress at all. Maybe I'll be completely hopeless, but I can't miss an opportunity like this one in my life," she said.

And who can blame her for wanting to have it all? Some people have all the luck, and Carla is one of the fortunate few who always see La Vie en Rose. Despite what her jealous fault-finders may say, it seems everything she touches turns to gold, from modelling to singing to looking picture- perfect as first lady -- so acting should be no exception. Allez Carla.

Sunday Independent

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