The actor died Friday at the age of 91.
In more than 60 years of career, Jean-Louis Trintignant will have appeared in 130 films (“hundred too“, he liked to say), but also directed two (A busy life, in 1972, and The lifeguard, in 1978). Silver Bear in Berlin for The man who liesInterpretation Prize at Cannes for ZCésar for best actor and Palme d’or (with special mention from the jury) for Lovehe was widely celebrated during his lifetime and has his seat at the table of the greatest French actors.
In 2017, for the release of Happy End, we selected eight films by Jean-Louis Trintignant. Not necessarily the best, nor the most popular or the most acclaimed. More like a collection of snapshots illustrating the full range of this mysterious and touching acting actor.
The Great Silence (Sergio Corbucci – 1968)
Silence, an enigmatic mute, battles bounty hunters in snowy Utah. Wounded, he is treated by Pauline (Vonetta McGee), a young Métis widow. Exchange of glances and epidermal rapprochement enveloped in sublime music by Morricone. JLT, even deprived of his voice, remains iconic.
My night at Maud’s (Eric Rohmer – 1969)
A devout Catholic, Jean-Louis spends a night chatting with Maud (Françoise Fabian), a beautiful divorcee. Subtle philosophical marivaudage in elegant sequence shots. JLT seems to improvise on an ultra-millimeter score. In the early morning, he embraces his partner, but gives up going any further. A postscript kiss will conclude this missed date.
The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci – 1970)
Marcello is an ordinary bastard under Mussolini. His fascist accomplices assassinate a dissident academic under the eyes of his wife Anna (Dominique Sanda). Terrorized, she asks for help from Marcello, her lover, witness of the scene from his car. JLT, indifferent, rolls up his window. A sublime and chilling moment of cowardice.
Without apparent mobile (Philippe Labro – 1971)
Inspector Carella investigates a series of murders in Nice. Hoping to catch the killer, he runs breathlessly around the marina. His gestures as a 10,000 meter runner suffocated in the final straight is so singular that the sequence will become the poster for the film. JLT will challenge its title the following year, in the Hare Race through the Fields.
A man is dead (Jacques Deray – 1972)
Lucien, in an impeccable three-piece suit, arrives in Los Angeles for what seems like a formality: to carry out a contract. The opportunity for JLT, who refused many roles in American films, to meet Ann-Margret, Angie Dickinson and Roy Scheider. The trap closes on the “Outside Man” (US title). “They decided to keep me… forever.”
A full day (Jean-Louis Trintignant – 1973)
A baker decides to kill, in the same day, the nine jurors who condemned his son. In this first realization (the dispensable Lifeguard will follow five years later), JLT appears as a theater director directing Hamlet. His actor killed in full rehearsal, he exclaims: “You can’t make Hamlet without breaking eggs.” Dark humor, audacity, poetry: UFO.
Aggression (Gerard Pires – 1975)
Paul, after the burial of his murdered wife and daughter, gets drunk in front of his sister-in-law (Catherine Deneuve). Back in his apartment, he throws “I will fuck you“. Refusal, fight, challenge. Opposition drunkenness (him) / sobriety (her), irresistible smile of JLT… All the subtlety of the play of partners in symbiosis for their first meeting on the screen.
fiesta (Pierre Boutron – 1995)
Masagual, Franco’s colonel, incidentally homosexual and morphomaniac, leads a battalion responsible for executing prisoners. On the podium of the roles of JLT 90s with Watch the men fall and Three colours. Red. At 65, the actor is imperial in the skin of a cynical non-conformist. “We will win because we are the dumbest.”