LA FAUTE DE L'ABBÉ MOURET
Director: Georges Franju. 1970

I was working on a film when I accidentally fell in love. At the same time I learned that Georges Franju was planning to make a film from Zola’s book, “La Faute de l’Abbé Mouret”. To cure myself I decided it would be perfect to go back to France. Forget everything. It was totally out of character but I took the first step. A meeting was arranged by my agent. The film test was a simple one in the producer’s office. Of all the coincidences that life can throw at one, the person who was testing with me was the object of my affection. What had drawn me originally to the part of Albine was that psychologically, we were similar. In this particularly unusual set of circumstances, the dialogue meant that Albine and I became, simply, one.
   I liked Franju immediately. He was refined, cultivated, original. He believed in ”Le cinéma vérité”. Francis Huster and I hoodwinked Franju into believing what he wanted to believe for a particular scene in the film, he found out only when the film was done. But the young school children from the nearby village sat in rows on their wooden benches in a classroom and bawled their eyes out when the actor playing the priest gave his thundering sermon on sin and damnation. Franju was especially delighted with the youngest boy. One could read in his face that the ground had suddenly opened from under his feet. He was terrified of moving. We filmed in the countryside, cut off from everything. I was serene, focused, at one with nature. I wanted to keep this feeling of completeness. The seed for the beginning of the next phase of my life had begun to grow.
   This is Francis Huster’s second film. He plays the main part, that of the intense and sensitive Mouret. Francis was passionate about theatre. He plotted with his best friend, Jacques Spiesser, about the plays they wanted to put together, they were into every aspect …this was the life! …they never doubted for one instant that they were destined to be kings. On the day of my arrival from London for the official opening of the film, Francis and I met. I noticed a tiny corner from the collar of his pajamas was peeking from beneath his shirt. One couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by a sense of tenderness for this young lion who must have set off the day before well prepared to spend the night working late with his friends until his head dropped, ready to begin again from exactly where they’d stopped only hours before, such was his hurry… I decided that if nothing truly interesting came my way that following year I was going to stop. I wasn’t interested in waiting, passive, anymore.
   When I became an illustrator living in New York, I luxuriated in the exotic freedom of just ‘being’. There was a big sky outside my window facing my drawing-board, there was a small mirror in the bathroom where the light was dim. I became bodiless. Only my hands, my eyes to guide my hands and my imagination, existed. Then one day I bumped into the theatre director Anthony Page. He had given me the part of Joy in his film “Inadmissible Evidence’, a play by John Osborne, that he had brought to the screen. Upon seeing me, he offered to help me get back into acting again. The loveliest thing was, he said I was a good actress. It felt warm. A fire crackled in my chest again. Yet, I declined.
The key stayed in the locked position.