St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on December 26, 1996 · Page 75
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 75

St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Thursday, December 26, 1996
Page 75
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SiH Star of French comedy of manners brings a fierce determination to her career By Harper Barnes Post-Dispatch Movie Critic was like a wild horse," said Judith Godreche, nostrils flaring. "They couldn't control me." She was talking about something that happened when she was 14 years old. The legendary director Jean-Luc Godard had offered her a part in "Detective," his most recent homage to American crime movies. "My mother refused because I was in school," said Godreche, frowning at the memory. "I was angry." So she left home and moved into an apartment in Paris with her boyfriend. And dropped out of school to be a full-time actress. Her parents, both therapists, apparently recognized they had raised an irresistible force. "They never refused me again," she said. She smiled. "I was so full of passion, and so sure of what I wanted to do. Stop that." She slapped the hand of Philippe, her husband. He'd been teasing her by stealing t food from her plate. They'd been married for all of three days, and you gathered that both of them could think of things they'd rather be doing, and places they'd rather be. Godreche is 24 years old. She's barely known here but is a star back home, a kind of French Julia Roberts, both in status and appearance. You could extend the metaphor and think of Philippe, who is a slightly gawky, freckled young architect, as a cafe au kit version of Lyle Lovett. j In a normal world, Judith and Philippe would be honeymooning on some balmy beach, not sitting in a French restaurant in overcast, chilly St. Louis. But there's nothing normal about the world of motion pictures, here or in France. Immediately after their wedding, they set out on a 10-day trip to America so Godreche. ' . could promote her movie, "Ridicule." The bitingly witty French comedy ' of 1 manners, set in 18th century Versailles at the court of Louis XVI, opens here Friday. From St. Louis, Godreche and her husband were flying to the west coast for a m M about a week of interviews, ranging from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Then it was back to Paris, where Godreche was scheduled to begin a new movie toute suite. Eventually, she and Phillipe agreed, they would find time to rf . ; -C r V IV 4 v f go on a real honeymoon. But, one gathers, nothing, not even love, stands between Judith Godreche and her acting career. It started when she was a in Paris. Judith Godreche: Beautiful, but don't try to steal her food, "They came to my school, looking for a little girl to play Claudia Cardinale's daughter," she recalled. The movie was called "Next Summer," and it also starred Fanny Ardent, who co-stars with Godreche in "Ridicule." "It was not such a good experience," she recalled, in fluent if accented English. "It was a small part, there were a lot of other actors in the film. They didn't pay so much attention to me." She did one of those Gallic full-body shrugs that suggest an amused fatalism at human shortsightedness. , But more roles came along, and by the time she was 16 she had become well known tor a movie called, appropriately, "La Fille de Quinze Ans" "The 15-year-old Girl." Since then, she has starred on both screen and stage (in Paris productions of plays by Neil Simon and Edward Albee). Last year, she published a novel. Obviously, leaving home and dropping out of school worked for Judith Godreche. Would she recommend it to other 14-year-old girls with an artistic bent? She shook her head. "I think I was too young," she said. "On certain points, I needed someone to say, 'that's dangerous, you're going to hurt yourself.' But I thought I was an adult. Since I was 2 years old, my father said I was already an adult." She shrugged again. In "Ridicule," Godreche plays the daughter of a successful courtier. Her character is, by the standards of the 18th-century French aristocracy, a fairly liberated woman. She is an aspir ing scientist, and spends a lot of her time exploring a pond in a primitive diving suit But she also must appear at court, jammed into a low-cut dress and what might be called a Wonder Corset. "The clothes were very uncomfortable," she recalled. "It's terrible. It's unhealthy. And there was very little liberty for women. I would not like to have lived then." "Stop that," she said again, slapping her husband's hand as it crept like a spider up her bare arm. He grinned. She grinned back. Who said youth is wasted on the young? 3 ' i 0$ It's still Christmas... at the Tivoli Theatre where "A Christmas Story" plays Saturday and Sunday as part of the Classic Series. The 1983 film a satirical story of a kid who longs to get a BB gun from Santa is loaded with irony and sentiment. It's a perfect choice for after the holiday rush. Call 862-1 100 for times. R.M.R t "V V ! DEC. 26, 1 996 31

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