Charlotte Rampling: The Look
DVD Review by Kam Williams
Documentary Offers Intimate Self-Portrait of Legendary Actress
The legendary Charlotte Rampling has been making movies since the mid-Sixties when she first stole scenes as the late Lynn Redgrave’s sidekick in Georgy Girl. Over the intervening years, she’s enjoyed high-profile roles opposite leading men like Woody Allen in Stardust Memories, Paul Newman in The Verdict and Robert De Niro in Angel Heart.
But the bilingual Brit has probably delivered her most memorable performances in French classics like Swimming Pool and Under the Sand, and other productions which have similarly captured her compelling combination of sophistication and sex appeal. Given her remarkable ability to generate screen chemistry, it only makes sense that her biopic would be subtitled “The Look.”
Directed by Angelina Maccarone, the movie landed the #1 spot as the Best Documentary of 2011 on this critic’s annual Top 100 List. This thought-provoking documentary offers an unusually-unguarded, cinematic portrait of an unassuming Hollywood icon due to its 65 year-old subject’s allowing herself to be shot without concern about finding flattering camera angles.
Consequently, we quickly see that this isn’t a superficial diva given to hiding behind costumes, makeup and cosmetic surgery, but a modest, down-to-earth soul who proudly wears her wrinkles and other indicia of her advancing age. Of far more import are her myriad insights on topics ranging from the invasive nature of fame (“Exposure is a beast, quite devouring.”) to the key to acting (“You have to feel completely exposed to give anything worthwhile of yourself.”) to the definition of true love (“Feeling safe with someone, a shared solitude.”).
As for “The Look,” Charlotte playfully credits her heavy eyelids for her endearing sensual appeal. However, she is also quick to concede that she allows her ”animal instincts” to take over because “the camera has to be your most intimate friend” in order for each performance “to look as if it just happened, and was not thought of.”
Yet, she remains at a bit of a loss as to why she’s often been labeled “mysterious, distant, secretive and difficult to access,” but guesses that it’s likely a reflection both of what’s going on inside of her and inside of her audience. After all, “in cinema, you are the projection of inner things.”
Regardless, whatever “It” is, this “It” girl has matured into a much-revered grand dame who’s still got “It” in spades. A far more revealing look at the real Rampling than any of her memorable nude scenes.
Excellent (4 stars)
In English, French and German with subtitles.
Running time: 94 minutes
Distributor: Kino Lorber
DVD Extras: Stills gallery and theatrical trailers.