More Than a Starer

Tár threw Noémie Merlant’s hat in the ring for the title of cinema’s foremost starer.

Or, that’s the bout I thought she was in…back when I unfairly boxed her in, before The Innocent taught me the error of my underestimating ways.

She had previously established her staring bonafides in Portrait of a Lady on Fire, but The Innocent puts her in the running for one of our rangiest actors. Whereas her prior staring potently suggests the external tip of her interiority’s silent iceberg, in The Innocent she’s extrovert incarnate, a wild child with bubbly magnetism that screams off the screen.

Which begs the question:

What’s up with French movies about lesbian romances platforming the careers of that country’s thespian world-beaters? Blue Is the Warmest Color ushered in Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, while Portrait of a Lady on Fire gave us Merlant and Adèle Haenel.

Unless Haenel unretires, there’s a chance that the supporting players in both movies (Seydoux and Merlant) ultimately trump the oevures of the leads (Exarchopoulos and Haenel).

Let’s hope it’s impossible to adjudicate the contest, because that’d be a win-win for cinema.

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