19 February 2013

Patrick Bruel

In the 1990’s France knew the pop phenomenon Bruelmania! After rocketing to fame as an actor, the Algerian-born Patrick Bruel (1959) went on to launch a phenomenally successful career on the European music scene. Thanks to his striking good looks and personal charisma, Bruel has become the idol of a whole generation of teenage girls. He made five studio albums and several live albums, and acted in more than 40 different television and film productions. He is also a professional poker player.

Patrick Bruel
French Postcard, no. S 2.

Patrick Bruel
French Postcard, no. A010.

A Million Screaming Girls
Patrick Bruel was born Patrick Maurice Benguigui in Tlemcen (a town near Oran) in French Algeria (now Algeria), in 1959. He is the son of Pierre Benguigui and Augusta Kammoun. His family became French in 1870 when the Crémieux Decree granted full French citizenship to the indigenous Jews of French Algeria. After the divorce of his parents, Patrick was brought up by his mother, who worked as a French teacher in a local school. When Algeria won its independence in 1962, Augusta brought her son back to France and the pair settled into a house in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil. Although Bruel aspired to be a soccer star as a youth, he decided to pursue singing after seeing Michel Sardou in 1975. After obtaining his baccalauréat in 1978, Patrick went on to university. In his summer holidays he would work at the Club Méditerranée, entertaining holidaymakers as a singer/guitarist. His first success came as an actor, however, in Le Coup de sirocco (1979, Alexandre Arcady) with Roger Hanin. The film, which told the story of a Pied Noir family (Algerians of French heritage) who is forced to return to France in 1962, when Algeria became independent. With director Alexandre Arcady Bruel would make several films during the following decades. Bruel continued to act in films, but also on television and in the theatre, and pursued his singing career. He released his first single, Vide (Empty) in 1981. It was not a success, but two years later the follow-up single, Marre de cette nana-là (1983, Fed up with that chick), was a hit. According to Rfi Music the hit “rocketed him to the forefront of the music screen, transforming him into the idol of a million screaming girl fans almost overnight.” Although Bruel was cast in serious roles in the theatre, his screen appearances were largely in action films such as Attention bandits!/Bandits (1986, Claude Lelouch) with Jean Yanne, and La maison assassinée/The Murdered House (1988, Georges Lautner). In 1989, however, Bruel made his mark on the film world with two excellent performances, starring in Alexandre Arcady’s L’union sacrée/The Sacred Union (1989) and Force Majeure/Uncontrollable Circumstances (1989, Pierre Jolivet). Bruel's performance in the latter would be highly acclaimed by the critics.

Patrick Bruel
French Postcard, no. REF 511.

Patrick Bruel
French promotion card by Phonogram, no. 14. Photo: G. Schachmes / Sygma.

Patrick Bruel
French Postcard, no. 2016.

Absolute Megastar
Patrick Bruel’s second album. Alors, regarde (1989, Now, look) marked a major turning-point in the singer's career. After the release of this #1 album in France, Bruel was transformed from successful singer to absolute megastar. The first single release, Casser la voix (Breaking the voice) rocketed to the top of the charts, selling a phenomenal amount of copies. Bruel’s overnight success also owed much to the frenetic ambience of his live concerts. He became also successful abroad, and the album for instance also sold well in the Netherlands. In 1990, Bruel embarked upon an extensive tour, playing more than 130 dates, both in France and abroad. Later successful albums would be Bruel (1994) and Juste avant (1999, Just before). Among his films and the comedy Les Cent et Une Nuits de Simon Cinéma/One Hundred and One Nights (1995, Agnès Varda) with Michel Piccoli and Marcello Mastroianni. Internationally he appeared in such productions as the remake Sabrina (1995, Sydney Pollack) starring Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond, the American romantic comedy Lost & Found (1999, Jeff Pollack) starring David Spade and Sophie Marceau and the Spanish thriller El lobo/The Wolf (2004, Miguel Courtois) starring Eduardo Noriega as a real life infiltrator of the ETA. After a phenomenally successful tour throughout the summer of 2000, Bruel hit the road again in autumn of that year, playing a practically non-stop series of concerts. His hard work reaped major dividends, boosting sales of his album and in December 2000 sales of Juste avant topped 1 million.

Patrick Bruel
French Postcard, no. C 267.

Patrick Bruel
French Postcard, no. CP 169.

Patrick Bruel
French Postcard, Réf. 562.

World Class Professional Poker Player
In 2002, Patrick Bruel released Entre Deux (Between two), a double CD of classic chanson covers that features duets with such legendary chanson stars Charles Aznavour, Alain Souchon and Renaud. It sold two million copies and made Bruel France's best paid singer of the year. In 2003, he officially changed his name from Patrick Maurice Benguigui to Patrick Bruel Benguigui, before his partner, the writer and playwright, Amanda Sthers gave birth to his first child, Oscar. In 2004, he wed the 24-year-old Sther. It was his first marriage. His second child, Léon was born in 2005. The couple separated in 2007. A few weeks after the tsunami that hit the Southeast Asian coasts on 24 December 2004, Bruel wrote the song Et puis la terre. It was recorded by an ensemble of French artists, and all profits for the song went to the Red Cross. Bruel continued to star in films. L'Ivresse du pouvoir/A Comedy of Power (2006, Claude Chabrol) is an interesting French drama starring Isabelle Huppert. In the war drama Un secret/A Secret (2007, Claude Miller), he co-starred with Cécile de France en Ludivine Sagnier. The film was 11 times nominated for a César, the French Oscar. It won only once, for Julie Dépardieu as Best Supporting Actress. Recently he starred in the romantic comedy Paris-Manhattan (2012), the first feature film by writer-director Sophie Lellouche. Bruel’s album Des souvenirs devant (2006, Memories before) was his 4th chart topper in France. In addition to acting and singing, Bruel is a world class professional poker player. He won a World Series of Poker bracelet in 1998 for the $5,000 Limit Hold'em event. He owns the popular French poker forum Wam-Poker and is a shareholder in the online poker room Winamax. He also comments the World Poker Tour in his home country. Patrick Bruel lives in Paris, France. He continues to mix the chanson with the cinema. His latest album is Lequel de nous (2012, Which of us). His newest film is Le prénom/What’s in a name (2012, Alexandre de La Patellière, Matthieu Delaporte) with Valérie Benguigui and in production is The Writer (2013, Marko Sanginetto).

Clip of Casser la voix (1989). Source: Christopher Dumont (YouTube).

Trailer for L'Ivresse du pouvoir/A Comedy of Power (2006). Source: Kochlorber (YouTube).

Trailer for Paris-Manhattan (2012). Source: Palace Films (YouTube).

Sources: RFI Music, Patrick Bruel.com, AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.

No comments: