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Charlotte Gainsbourg smoked up a storm, both onstage and off, when she attended the Berlin Film Festival in 2001.
The actress was starring in Patrice Leconte’s Félix and Lola, playing a mysterious woman who shows up at a traveling amusement park, where she bewitches a bumper car operator played by Philippe Torreton.
In a review headlined “All Smoke and Mirrors,” Indiewire critic G. Allen Johnson wrote, “Félix and Lola is a good-looking movie with appealing supporting characters, yet it’s no fun at all. Lola (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is the typical European heroine, yet another mystery girl in trouble who’s a spindly chain-smoker and longingly gazes at nothing in particular.”
As if taking cues from her character, Gainsbourg showed up at the film’s press conference with a cigarette in hand. Observed Echo Germanica, “The still young Charlotte Gainsbourg represented her film Félix and Lola. She was so nervous that she chain-smoked.”
Actually, the moment didn’t come as much of a surprise, since Gainsbourg, the daughter of British actress Jane Birkin and French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, frequently lit up during interviews early in her career. It wasn’t until she was successfully treated for a cerebral hemorrhage in 2007, following a waterskiing accident several weeks earlier, that she quit the habit, confessing in a 2010 interview that she’d “stopped smoking, so I have been very nervous and irritated.”
Presumably, a more confident and relaxed Gainsbourg, now 50, will be on hand when she visits this year’s edition of Berlin — last year she enjoyed success at the Cannes Film Festival, where she unveiled Jane by Charlotte, a documentary she directed about her mother.
As for her newest project, Gainsbourg stars in French helmer Mikhaël Hers’ Berlin competition entry The Passengers of the Night. No longer the enigmatic ingenue, she’s graduated to mother roles, starring as a single parent of two teenagers in 1980s Paris.
Her character, Elisabeth, has just begun work at a late night radio show when she encounters a troubled teenager named Talulah, played by Noée Abita, whom she invites into her home, where the free-spirited Talulah proceeds to change the lives of Elisabeth and her children.
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