Bond baddie brings burlesque film to Cannes

Thu May 13, 2010 9:53am EDT
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By James Mackenzie

PARIS (Reuters) - Mathieu Amalric leads a troupe of veteran burlesque dancers on a rambling road movie through the backwaters of France in "On Tour", his debut as director in the main competition at the Cannes film festival.

The former Bond villain from "Quantum of Solace" plays a raffish impresario trying to keep the show on the road while the money runs out and his unruly company of showgirls ask when they will finally get to Paris.

Inspired by a memoir from the French writer Colette, who worked as a music hall actress in the early years of last century, Amalric based the film around the striptease revivalists of the "New Burlesque" movement who recreate acts of the 1940s and 50s.

"When I met them, I had the feeling that we could create a fiction, disorder, disobedience, politics without having to transmit a message," he told a news conference at Cannes.

The anarchic verve of the girls highlights the unreliability of Amalric's character Joachim Zand as he tries to maintain the illusion of control in the face of constant reminders from the artistes that "it's not your show".

"Dirty Martini", "Mimi Le Meaux" and the other artistes rework and subvert the conventions of "gentlemen's entertainment", flaunting their tattoos, false eyelashes and sagging flesh outrageously.

The real-life performers play rough versions of themselves, snagging occasional lovers and going through a series of numbers along the way.

"I think a lot of women were very frustrated with how they were portrayed in society. Like punk rock they decided to buck the system," said "Dirty Martini" (aka Linda Marraccini), one of the pioneers of the "New Burlesque" movement.   Continued...

<p>Director Mathieu Amalric (3rd R) and cast members (L to R) Evie Lovelle, Julie Atlas Muz, Mimi Le Meaux, Kitten On The Keys and Dirty Martini attend a photocall for the film "Tournee" at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2010. Nineteen films compete for the prestigious Palme d'Or which will be awarded on May 23. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler</p>