Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jean Seberg and what's hidden in her face

“On every subsequent anniversary of her daughter Nina's death, Jean Seberg attempted suicide. In 1978, she somehow survived an attempt, throwing herself under a train on the Paris Metro.” – imdb

The eyes belonged to somebody else
The face was wholesome and healthy and feminine, the haircut boyish. Maybe that's what pulled you in. This seductive contrast. Not for her an Audrey Hepburn-type gamin. She didn’t eat breakfast, let alone at Tiffany’s. You sensed something darker, less playful than she herself suggested. 

There was intelligence in the eyes yet they often seemed distracted, in dispute with the face. The two were inharmonious. But that was her odd appeal. At those moments she has you.

To play Saint Joan, it helps to have resolve. And ambiguity. She set the tone for female roles in the la nouvelle vague. They are slim and smart and quote Camus and know all the answers but can’t tolerate questions.

All that's hidden behind her face
If she'd had a cinematic soul mate, it might have been Greta Garbo, emanating the inexplicable cool that comes from those who overheat. Too clever for their own good. (Small wonder she worshipped Brando). But Garbo knew to cut out before the Big Fear set in. And Marlon grew corpulent with rage. Jean Seberg never made it.

“It's sad to fall asleep. It separates people. Even when you're sleeping together, you're all alone.” She spoke that line in À bout de souffle, her most famous role, with such benign conviction that you sense she'd already made a final decision about life, though it was to be hidden behind her strange eyes and in her beautiful face, right to the end