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28 April 2013

Gérard Lanvin

Darkly handsome Gérard Lanvin (1950) is a César Award-winning French actor and screenwriter. In the last decade he appeared in several popular French comedies and gangster films.

Gérard Lanvin
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

A Kind of European Sex Symbol
Gérard Raymond Lanvain was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, France in 1950. He quit his studies when he was 17 to become an actor. Between 1968 and 1970, he attended acting courses by François Florent at the Cours Florent. During the 1970’s he works in the then fashionable theatre-café, Café de la Gare. He made his film debut as an extra in the hilarious comedy L'Aile ou la Cuisse/The Wing or the Thigh (1976, Claude Zidi) with Louis de Funès and Coluche as the editors of an internationally known restaurant guide, who are waging a war against a fast food entrepreneur. Coluche then asked Lanvin as the white knight for his historical satire Vous n'aurez pas l'Alsace et la Lorraine/You Won't Have Alsace-Lorraine (1977, Coluche). Lanvin co-starred with Nathalie Baye in the drama Une semaine de vacances/A Week's Vacation (1980, Bertrand Tavernier), which was entered into the 1980 Cannes Film Festival. He played a jazz musician in the moody comedy-drama Extérieur, nuit/Exterior Night (1980, Jacques Bral) with Christine Boisson and André Dussollier. With these romantic films, the darkly handsome Lanvin became a kind of European sex symbol. In 1982, he received the Prix Jean Gabin for his role as a manipulated advertising executive in Une étrange affaire/Strange Affair (1981, Pierre Granier-Deferre) opposite Michel Piccoli as his new manager. James Travers at Films de France: “A strange film indeed. By adopting the style if not the substance of a traditional French thriller, this film explores the competing pressures of family and work in modern society. The story should be familiar to anyone who works for a medium-sized company, where certain employees are prepared, or expected, to ditch their home life to advance their careers. Fortunately, the story is told in such an unusual way, with such complex characters, that it appears anything but anodyne.”

Catherine Deneuve
Catherine Deneuve. Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 568.

Seemingly Conventional Screen Lover
Gérard Lanvin then appeared in the crime thriller Le Choix des armes/Choice of Arms (1981, Alain Corneau), starring Yves Montand, Gérard Dépardieu and Catherine Deneuve. In 1983, he co-starred again with Michel Piccoli in the French-Yugoslav science-fiction thriller Le Prix du Danger/The price of the Danger (1983, Yves Boisset) about a popular television game show where everyday men or women volunteer to be hunted by professional killers. James Travers: “Whilst it may lack the coherence and sophistication of many of Yves Boisset’s previous thrillers, Le Prix du danger does achieve an effective and satisfying mix of modern film noir thriller and black comedy. The action sequences are pacy and well choreographed whilst the acerbic humour gets across the film’s dark political subtext with impact, in spite of its blatant lack of subtlety. The film benefits from a strong cast.” A triumph was the urban comedy Marche à l'ombre/Walking in the shadow (1984, Michel Blanc) with more than 6,000,000 spectators. James Travers: “The film’s strength lies in the amazing Blanc-Lanvin double act, the two contrasting actors playing off each other to great effect: Blanc the inept yet surprisingly successful Don Juan, Lanvin the seemingly conventional screen lover who fails to get lucky (despite oozing sex appeal by the bucket load).” Then followed for Lanvin some years in which he seemed to be looking for the right part. In 1992 he starred in La Belle Histoire/The Beautiful Story (1992, Claude Lelouch) as a gypsy called Jesus. Three years later he won a César Award for Best Actor for his role as a shady hotel manager in Le Fils préféré/The Favourite Son (1995, Nicole Garcia). That year, he also portrayed a homeless man who gets shelter of a prostitute in the erotic drama Mon Homme/My Man (1995, Bertrand Blier). It was entered into the 46th Berlin International Film Festival where his co-star Anouk Grinberg won the Silver Bear for Best Actress.

Gérard Lanvin, Bernard Giraudeau, Les Spécialistes
French postcard by Les Editions Gil in the série acteurs, no. 3. Publicity still for Les Spécialistes/The Specialists (1985, Patrice Leconte) with Bernard Giraudeau.

Wildly Successful
During the 2000’s, Gérard Lanvin returned to the big screen with popular comedies. In 2001, he received the César Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the romantic comedy of manners Le Goût des autres/The Taste of Others (2000, Agnes Jaoui). Jason Clark at AllMovie: “debut filmmaker Jaoui (who also plays one of the featured roles) finds the quirks in many of her characters in unusual ways, which sets her work apart from cruder efforts. More than anything, Others tries to find the root of human interaction and its subsequent effects, at times in a manner audiences might not be willing to accept, but mostly in an interesting, entertaining fashion.” The film won the César for Best Film, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Lanvin then starred in such popular comedies as Le Boulet/Dead Weight (2002, Alain Berbérian, Frédéric Forestier) with Benoît Poelvoorde, Trois zeros/Three Zeros (2002, Fabien Onteniente) with Samuel LeBihan, and Camping (2006, Fabien Onteniente) starring Frank Dubosc. Lanvin had a supporting part in the gangster biopic L'Instinct de Mort/Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2007, Jean-François Richet), which starred Vincent Cassel as larger-than-life outlaw Jacques Mesrine, who thrived on his status as French Public Enemy Number 1. It was the premier instalment in a two-part series of features, and Lanvin also appeared as Mesrine’s leftist spokesman in the second feature, L'ennemi Public No. 1/Mesrine: Public Enemy # 1 (2008, Jean-François Richet). In France this saga was wildly successful in the cinemas, and has been referred to as the French version of Scarface with Al Pacino. Also popular were the action-thriller À bout portant/Point Blank (2010, Fred Cavayé) starring Gilles Lellouche, and Les Lyonnais/A Gang Story (2011, Olivier Marchal) about a 1970’s gang which operated around Lyon. In 2013, he can be seen in the crime drama Colt 45 (2013, Fabrice du Welz). Gérard Lanvin is married to former actress and singer Jennifer. They have two children, singer Manu Lanvin and deejay Léo Lanvin.


Trailer for Extérieur, nuit/Exterior Night (1980). Source: Turguiefroide (YouTube).


Trailer for Passionnément/Passionately (2000, Bruno Nuytten) with Charlotte Gainsbourg. Source: Forever CLG (YouTube).


Trailer for Les Lyonnais/A Gang Story (2011). Source: abcscope (YouTube).

Sources: James Travers (Films de France), Jason Clark (AllMovie), AlloCiné (French), AllMovie, Wikipedia (English and French) and IMDb.

1 comment:

Bunched Undies said...

Excellent article. Lanvin's ruggedness makes him a natural for crime dramas but he's also made several light comedies recently that are fairly good. Yep I'm a fan.