Paris is love/hate affair for Juliette Binoche

Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:11pm EDT
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a career spanning some 40 movies including global hits "The English Patient" and "Chocolat," Juliette Binoche has built a strong reputation by playing many erotically charged and emotionally naked characters.

In her new film "Paris," which opens Friday in Los Angeles and New York, the French actress and Oscar winner plays Elise, a lonely social worker and mother who moves in with her brother when he is diagnosed with a terminal disease.

In real life, things are a lot more upbeat for Binoche. A multifaceted artist -- she's a dancer, poet and painter -- her many talents converge in New York City and Brooklyn this month for "In-I & Jubilations," a month-long artistic event.

Q: How would you describe "Paris?"

A: "It's always so hard for me to describe a film I'm in, as it's so subjective. It's about a lot of different people living in Paris, and a mix of many sides of life, not all happy ones. If you don't go to the bottom, you don't know what joy is, and to explore life you have to plunge head first and take risks. And the way we're brought up with this whole view of life as black and white, good and bad, is completely false, because in life everything is transformable, and something bad can actually be very good, and vice versa. So it's about all those ideas."

Q: And how much of you is there in Elise?

A: "I try to put everything I can of myself into every role. I never try to detach from the characters. We have everything inside us, anyway, and I have a brother -- thank God he doesn't have cancer, and I'm a mother. I've been single, so there's a lot of Elise in me. The more you live, the better you become as an actor as you've experienced more, even though you create with your imagination. That's the great thing about maturity."

Q: Is it true that you first met the director, Cedric Klapisch, when he was working as an electrician on a film back in the '80s?   Continued...

<p>Actress Juliette Binoche arrives for the screening of the film "Bright Star" by director Jane Campion at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 15, 2009. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>