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Ma femme est une actrice - My Wife Is An Actress

A thirtysomething French sports journalist becomes riddled with anxiety by his actress wife's celebrity, to the point of suspecting that she is having an affair with her British leading man.


Parisian sports writer Yvan isn't nearly as successful as his actress wife, Charlotte--a film star hounded by fans--and her celebrity increasingly becomes a deeper thorn in his side, although it's his brain that's most affected. They are two spoiled children: he by his wife and comfortable life, and she by her fans, status and obsessed husband. Yvan's ridiculous over-reaction to his wife's celebrity is the spine of the movie, and his whining, hysteria, obsessive-compulsive behavior and short temper are as annoying as pinched nerves. While Yvan's sister Nathalie and brother-in-law Vincent bicker about whether they will circumcise their soon-to-be-born son, the chasm grows between Yvan and Charlotte, especially after she leaves for London for her latest starring role. Yvan's annoyance and angst are heightened by his wife's ability to easily nail reservations at trendy restaurants and by the realization that millions of moviegoers see her intimately kissing other men on 35-foot-high screens. Yvan's anxiety reaches ridiculous proportions when Charlotte begins shooting her London production with Brit star John. Yvan's frequent visits to the set only make him more suspicious. But not only does Charlotte remain faithful, if not tempted, she balks at having to play a nude love scene with John. Back in Paris, Yvan immerses himself in a local theater group, as if trying to best his wife. His friendship with a fellow aspiring actress has the appearance of being something more when the actress insists upon kissing Yvan. Charlotte, who has made a surprise trip back to Paris, catches the pair embracing on the street. She runs to an exclusive disco to console herself, but when Yvan chases after her, he's stopped cold at the velvet rope. They reconcile just before they are blessed by some good news.


Yvan Attal, who also wrote and directed My Wife Is an Actress, is a bouncy, convincingly neurotic Yvan, and real-life wife (and real-life star) Charlotte Gainsbourg is fine as a wife of considerable tolerance. Other actors, including Terence Stamp as Brit star John, do what they can with their roles. Ringing most true, however, but wasted in his minor role, is Keith Allen as Brit director David, a take-charge, manipulative helmer who is a far more amusing character than those charged with carrying this film.


Attal makes his feature film directing debut with this effort, a self-indulgent, sometimes obnoxious vanity production. Its double-whammy family-values message suggests that bearing children is also just another manifestation of narcissism. While My Wife Is an Actress impresses as a massive celluloid bundle of self-love, the direction makes it bearable. The film has a light, jazzy feel and nice look (Paris and London locations gleam), and Attal maintains a lively enough pace, so much of the film's narrative indulgences and pampered characters won't send audiences running.

Bottom Line

While charm and heart might have done wonders to temper the strident goings-on in My Wife Is an Actress, the actor/director allows only a little relief at the end of this self-indulgent, lightweight journey.