Monday, July 30, 2007

R.I.P.: Michel Serrault (1928-2007)

I'm beginning to feel a little bit like Haley Joel Osment today -- I'm seeing too many dead people. Even with 150 films to his credit, French actor Michel Serrault likely will always be known best in the United States (and, truth to tell, most other places) for his campy cavorting as a tizzy-prone transvestite in La Cage aux Folles and two lesser but lightly likable sequels. And yet: As much as I enjoyed his madcap antics those broadly played farces, I much preferred his audaciously stylized, Dr. Mabuse-style portrayal of a seemingly respectable sociopath who preys upon desperate Jews in Nazi-occupied France in Christian de Chalonge's unjustly obscure Docteur Petiot (1990); and, better still, his masterfully understated performance as an aging businessman who refuses to reveal just how much he may long for -- or lust for -- a much younger woman (Emmanuelle BĂ©art) in Claude Sautet's Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud (1995).

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