If the term ‘icon’ fits any actor impeccably, it must be Catherine Deneuve. Icons, after all, don’t have to emote, or even move – they just need to look lovely and be worshipped. And much of the time, that’s all Deneuve has needed to do to stay on top of her profession. In those films where emotions just seem to glance off those perfect features, you can see why US critic Manny Farber nailed her as “Catherine Deadnerve”.
Some directors, though, have managed to thaw out that ice-goddess chill. Polanski did it in Repulsion (not included here, alas) and, most famously, Buñuel did it in 1967’s Belle De Jour (the lone disc reviewed in issue 125).
The other standout in this five-disc set is Deneuve’s breakthrough movie, Jacques Demy’s enchanting, all-sung romance Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (1964), with the actress showing an infectious sense of fun.
However, the later Demy pic, Donkey Skin (1970), misfires disastrously: at once garish and disingenuous, it features Deneuve as a princess lusted after by her own dad (Cocteau veteran Jean Marais). Manon 70 (1968) is even worse, recasting the 18th-century classic novel in vapidly trendy ‘60s terms, with Deneuve in her most clotheshorse-like persona. There’s much more substance in André Téchiné’s Ma Saison Préférée (1993), teaming Deneuve with Daniel Auteuil as the siblings struggling to come to terms with each other and their mother’s imminent death.