Few screen icons have provoked as much commentary, speculation and adulation as the 'she' of this plaudit, Catherine Deneuve. This book begins with a brief overview of Deneuve's career, followed by a critical survey of the field of theoretical star studies, highlighting its potential and limitations for European, and particularly French, film scholarship. It argues the need for the single-star case study as a model for understanding the multiple signifying elements of transnational stardom. Her first role, at the age of 13, was a brief appearance as a schoolgirl in André Hunebelle's Collégiennes/The Twilight Girls. It was in 1965 that Roman Polanski would cast Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion, described by one critic as a 'one-woman show' in a role that would effectively create a persona which would resonate throughout her future film career. The darker shades of the Deneuve persona are in even greater evidence in Tristana. Demy's Donkey Skin is arguably an equal source of the tale's iconic status in France today, and largely because of Deneuve. The book also investigates films of the 1970s; their role in shaping her star persona and the ways in which they position Deneuve in relation to French political culture. The book considers exactly why directors gravitate towards Deneuve when trying to evoke or represent forms of female homosexual activity on film, and to consider exactly what such directors actually make Deneuve do and mean once they have her performing these particular forms of lesbian relation.
Catherine Deneuve cinematic queerness has often emerged from on-screen evocations of a wide range of 'perverse', paradoxical or blank heterosexualities. In 1983 Deneuve's lesbian moments on film reach their peak of exposure with a vampire film The Hunger in which she plays Miriam, last in an ancient race of apparently immortal vampires, able to bestow the gift of several centuries of youth to her chosen partners. This chapter considers exactly why directors gravitate towards Deneuve when trying to evoke or represent forms of female homosexual activity on film. It also considers exactly what such directors actually make Deneuve do and mean once they have her performing these particular forms of lesbian relation. Belle de jour provides a useful point of entry into understanding lesbian sadomasochist cinema's potential for the demystification of the Deneuvian persona.
do and mean once
they have her performing these particular forms of lesbianrelation. Once we
get beyond the two main dangers in the relatively virgin territory of
Deneuvian lesbian studies – myopic underestimation or lubricious
trivialisation – it becomes apparent that lesbian behaviour is, quite
indisputably, a solidly recurrent dimension of Deneuve’s star persona
that has often been made to function in a singular and