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My Wife is an Actress

If you're having trouble getting tickets to One Hour Photo, you can consider My Wife is an Actress, a French import that is also opening this weekend. Although the film has some seriously annoying scenes, it does have the benefit of a charming performance by Charlotte Gainsbourg and a delicious turn by Terence Stamp.

Gainsbourg is not well-known on these shores--her most famous stateside release is still The Little Thief, from way back in 1989. However, she's quite famous in France, partly for her extensive acting work and partly as the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Her husband, Yvan Attal, is an Israeli-born actor who makes his feature directing debut with this film, about a regular, everyday guy named "Yvan" who is married to a famous actress named "Charlotte."

If this self-referential family affair sounds too precious by half, it often is. However, inquiring minds might be dying for a peek inside the lives of such celebrity/non-celebrity pairings. In My Wife is an Actress, the marriage of Yvan and Charlotte undergoes severe strain when she travels to London to shoot a film with a very famous, older British actor. The character is played by Terence Stamp and he seems to be doing a wicked parody of Sean Connery, a wily old seducer who can liquidate women's defenses at 100 yards.

Which brings up the film's most serious problem: Yvan Attal's onscreen alter ego is so relentlessly charmless and pathologically jealous that it's difficult to understand how he ever snared Charlotte in the first place. There's also a subplot about a Jewish mother, a goy father and a prospective circumcision that isn't very funny--Woody Allen and Philip Roth do this material much better. Ultimately, it's the angular charm of Gainsbourg (she has a very strange and endearing smile) and the flamboyance of Stamp that provides this film's best moments. See "Opening Friday" for theaters. --David Fellerath

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