There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Because movies usually deploy real people and real places in service of fabrications, it’s interesting when a filmmaker interjects some actuality into the process. For My Wife Is an Actress, writer-director-actor Yvan Attal cast longtime paramour Charlotte Gainsbourg as Charlotte, a popular French actress whose surname somehow can never quite be heard. Charlotte is married to a sports reporter named Yvan, a role that happens to be played by Attal. If this sounds sufficiently self-reflexive for a recent Godard film, be assured that Attal’s model is, in fact, Woody Allen. The movie is a narcissistic sitcom, with its director all too annoyingly believable as the self-obsessed twerp who freaks out when Charlotte goes to London to shoot a love story with a suave leading man (Terence Stamp). While family-minded Charlotte plots the best day for Yvan to visit and impregnate her, he’s driven berserk by a casual acquaintance’s questions about the sex scenes in his wife’s films. Cue “London Calling”—twice—as Yvan hops a Eurostar to Waterloo Station for confrontations that only make things worse. Meanwhile, Yvan’s sister is feuding with her non-Jewish husband over her insistence that their unborn son be circumcised—a subplot that’s apparently designed to show that Yvan’s not the most obnoxious member of his family. My Wife has some amusing moments, and Gainsbourg is consistently engaging. Still, the likable if not quite glamorous actress doesn’t seem exactly right as the dazzling celebrity who continually upstages her beau; you have to know that Gainsbourg really is a big star in France to accept that Charlotte would awe everyone from traffic cops to nightclub doormen. As for Attal, with just his first feature, he’s made it to the stage it took Allen years to reach: directing films that would be better if he didn’t star in them. —Mark Jenkins