Critical / “Like an actress” (2023) by Sebastien Bailly
With Like an actress, Sébastien Bailly directs a fantastic film with Julie Gayet in the main role. She plays an aging actress ready to do anything to win back her husband (Benjamin Biolay). The film has been released in theaters since March 8. Criticism and opinion of Bulles de Culture.
Anna (Julie Gayet), an actress in her fifties, is left by her husband, Antoine (Benjamin Biolay), theater director. Ready to do anything not to lose him, she goes so far as to take on the appearance of the young woman with whom he has an affair. But this double game could turn against her…
Like an actress : Sébastien Bailly revisits the elixir of youth
For his first feature film, Sebastien Bailly (of which, in 2018, three of the short films had been distributed in theaters within the program Féminin plurielles) wished to devote itself to the invisibilization of actresses from a certain age.
To bring this strong message to the screen, he called on the actress Julie Gayet, known for her multiple commitments in favor of women’s rights. Through the physical degeneration of the protagonist – as she transforms into a younger woman – the filmmaker directs his story towards a fantastic universe that blends with fantasy.
As the victim of an addiction, Anna ends up not being able to do without her elixir of youth, even though each sip weakens her, both physically and morally. This argument with strong potential does not however keep all its promises, for lack of being fully exploited.
The writing around the double game, at first intriguing, leads the narration to a dead end. The ambiguity on which the film ends, even if it is assumed, may sound like the admission of an impossibility to put an end to a story that will have been lost along the way. Because of these screenplay dross, the actors are somewhat left to their own devices.
Thus, the game of Julie Gayet – whose character oscillates between neurosis and dependence – does not convince. Benjamin Biolay does not leave his usual role of arrogant dandy, more likely to hurt women than to encourage them. Finally, like her character, Agathe Bonitzer does not manage to exist enough and remains in the shadow of the two headliners.
Our opinion ?
Like an actress uses the fantastic to denounce the invisibilization of actresses from a certain age. Based on a solid concept, Sébastien Bailly loses himself in a story that turns in circles, with headliners with bland interpretations.