When Mathieu Amalric is on screen, it’s impossible to take your eyes off him. There’s a distinct manic energy that emanates from inside the French actor and pours into the myriad characters he takes on . Whether he’s continuing his career-long collaboration with Arnaud Desplechin, appearing in roles for Wes Anderson, starring in films from icons like Roman Polanski and Alain Resnais, or playing a Bond villain, Amalric’s presence wraps you in a giddy pleasure, as you admire his ability to be completely devoured by a role while still carrying the spark that makes him so fascinating.
This year alone, we’ve seen him in Polanski’s Venus in Fur, Desplechin’s Jimmy P, Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, Pascale Ferran’s Bird People, and Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu’s Love Is the Perfect Crime, but for Amalric, his ambitions were not always set in front of the camera. After training to be a director from the likes of Louis Malle, Amalric fell into acting after working with Desplechin on La sentinelle in 1992, and it wouldn’t be until 2010 that he made his first sensation as a director with the burlesque portrait On Tour (Tournée). And this past May, his most recent directorial effort The Blue Room (La chambre bleue) premiered at Cannes ahead of its US debut at NYFF this week and its theatrical release tomorrow.
Adapted from George Simenon’s novel of the same title, Amalric stars in the sensual and elegant erotic noir, alongside his partner and co-writer Stéphanie Cléau and French actress Léa Drucker. The Blue Room follows Julien and Esther, an adulterous man and a married woman whose torrid affair takes place in the blue room of a country hotel. Possessed by her love for him and her belief that he shares her plans for a future together, her desire turns to madness, as his life slowly becomes unraveled in her wake. Beautifully shot and austerely told, the film exposes the dangers of lust and the harrowing pain of guilt, examining the boundaries between love and obsession.