Catherine Deneuve, “the Italian”

For many Italians, she is “la Deneuve”. Rewarded on Wednesday with a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, actress Catherine Deneuve has always had a special relationship with Italy.

She goes there frequently, has shot a dozen films there since the 1960s and has formed a famous film couple with Marcello Mastroianni, the Italian seducer par excellence.

– La dolce vita with Mastroianni –

Their first meeting took place in the fall of 1970 during a dinner at Roman Polanski’s in London. Mastroianni shoots the last scenes of a film there.

He is 46, she is 27. The actor with numerous female conquests has just been left by Faye Dunaway; she is no longer with François Truffaut. The magic doesn’t work right away.

“His role required him to have his head shaved and I must admit that I did not recognize him immediately”.

They get closer shortly after, on the set of “It only happens to others”, by Nadine Trintignant. “The film finished, Marcello remained in my life”. For four years, they formed one of the most glamorous couples in cinema.

They live in Paris and in 1972 have a daughter, Chiara, also a future actress.

But Mastroianni is still married in Italy and has no intention of divorcing. Deneuve put an end to their relationship in 1974. “We remained the best friends in the world”, said Mastroianni.

– Dear Venice –

She is a regular in Venice, where she has presented several films in competition. The latest, “The Truth” by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, opens the 2019 festival.

She also chaired the jury of the 63rd Mostra, in 2006, and received the Volpi Cup for best female interpretation in 1998 for “Place Vendôme” by Nicole Garcia.

She was also rewarded in Rome with a David di Donatello – Italian equivalent of the César – for the best foreign actress for “The Last Metro” by Truffaut.

– Switch to Cinecitta –

“I like Italian films. Because we breathe, because we live. I find the scripts in general more elaborate, richer (…) The Italians have a fantastic sense of derision”, says- she during the filming – in Venice! – of “Lost Souls” (1977), by Dino Risi.

She made her first Italian film at the age of 20 in “With love and with rage” with Sami Frey.

We find her in “Liza” (1972) by Marco Ferreri, behind closed doors in love with Mastroianni. The couple turns again for Ferreri in “Do not touch the white woman!” (1974), parody of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

She is still on the bill of “La Grande Bourgeoise” (1974) by Mauro Bolognini, based on a news item from the beginning of the 20th century, of “La Cabine des amours” (1977) by Sergio Citti and of the comedy “Pourvu que it’s a girl” (1986) by Mario Monicelli.

– Italian OV –

She is the best-known French actress in Italy, where she makes frequent trips. Regularly invited on television sets, she expresses herself in fluent Italian.

When her daughter Chiara was a child, she spoke to her in Italian “so that she would not forget her father’s language”.

In the film “Le Héros de la famille”, she covers the song “Ho capito che ti amo” by Luigi Tenco in original version.

The only hitch in this beautiful love story with Italy: it was whistled in 2009 at a cultural festival in Tuscany, the public being, it seems, irritated by a text widely said… in French.

– “Yes, I am Catherine Deneuve” –

The phrase has become a gimmick in Italy. It’s a short line from the actress, a dazzling smile and a perfect blow-dry in front of a luxury hotel, at the end of a 1982 advertising spot for a Lancia brand car.

“It has become a common expression in Italy, which we throw to punctuate a sentence, when we want to claim our chic side, by joke or self-mockery”, explains the Franco-Italian Alessandra Serra, who drew a musical show from it and humorous “I am Catherine Deneuve”.

The replica is so successful that it is studied in marketing schools.

Catherine Deneuve, “the Italian”