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In the U.S., much has been made of the lack of women’s roles in film, especially as they reach, in movie terms, the unmagical age of 40. There are many reasons for this, but the main one, I suggest, is that American filmmakers (directors, writers, producers) seem to have absolutely no interest in creating movies with women as central characters.
Though I’m not saying this isn’t a problem everywhere, it does seem to be far worse in the U.S. In other countries, especially of the European variety, for whatever reason (perhaps a topic for another time), actresses of all ages, but especially older ones, don’t seem to have that serious of a problem in this area.
In fact, it is not unusual for directors overseas to constantly use the same actress over and over again, often creating roles and movies as vehicles for them. Claude Chabrol loved, while Michael Haneke loves, using Isabel Huppert. André Téchiné seems to worship the ground that Catherine Deneuve walks on. Francois Ozon has a thing for Charlotte Rampling. And who can forget Lars Von Trier’s constant use of Charlotte Gainsborough.
And from Germany we have writer/director Christian Petzold who has little trouble finding interesting and effective roles for his latest muse: Nina Hoss (quickly becoming one of the world’s more impressive actors). Together they have made several films, from the existential Yella; the unofficial remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Jerichow; the cold war thriller, Barbara; and now the Holocaust drama, Phoenix. Continue reading →