German filmmaker Angelina Maccarone has made a name for herself writing and directing films featuring powerful women. Her most recent features, the 2005 Unveiled (about a Iranian lesbian translator who immigrates to Germany after being prosecuted in her own country) and 2007’s Vivere (a road movie about three generations of women and their accidental friendship) were both theatrically released in the US and are available on DVD.
The Look is Maccarone’s first foray into documentary filmmaking, and she has chosen to portray yet another strong female character: the enigmatic, mysterious and consummated actress Charlotte Rampling.
After growing up in a bilingual household, Rampling established a career in the English as well as French speaking world, and has worked with luminaries such as Richard Lester (The Knack.. and How to Get It, 1965), Liliana Cavani (The Night Porter, 1974), Nagisa Oshima (Max mon amour, 1989), Tony Scott (Spy Game, 2001), Francoise Ozon (Swimming Pool, 2003) and many, many more.
Divided into chapters with headlines like Exposure, Age, and Resonance, Angelina Maccarone approaches the portrait of Charlotte Rampling in interviews and encounters with Rampling and friends and family discussing life, philosophy and shared projects.
At a post-screening conversation during the Munich Film Festival, Rampling elaborates that the idea of the film was for her not to perform, but to express what she was feeling as it was happening in front of the camera; so there were no second takes.
Throughout the film, Maccarone provides space and time for Charlotte Rampling to share insights into her art and craft of acting, and then digs a little deeper. Rampling reflects on everyone’s desire to be liked but immediately questions that sentiment to conclude that it may be better to be thought of as a monster than a nice person.
One of the most memorable segments in the documentary is Rampling’s meeting with her son,
Barnaby Southcomb, an established film director. The two of them meet just prior to filming
I, Anna, a feature film based on Anna Lewin’s crime novel with the same title. For The Look, Maccarone has Rampling and Southcomb encounter each other inside a boxing ring—a metaphor for the working atmosphere and the “battle” between an actress and the director—sparring with the material they are working with. And their exchange is intimate and insightful, and we, the audience, wonder whether the two are rehearsing lines of a play or are actually showing us glimpses of their family dynamic.
Throughout the film, Maccarone uses clips from Rampling’s rich repertoire to illustrate each chapter’s core points. Each clip intrigues and leaves one wanting more—always a good way to conclude.
The Look premiered at Cannes Classics earlier this year and was theatrically released in Germany in October, 2011.
For further information, please visit: www.thelook-derfilm.de