Gérard's magnificent nose

5 October 2007

‘Oh, gosh, I had forgotten how big it was!” – the whispered words of surprise I heard from beside me in the cinema as Gérard Depardieu appeared upon the screen. This was completely understandable though, because he really does have a large one. It still makes me wonder; ‘how on earth did he manage to become one of France’s most prolific film actors, whilst for all of his life he has been unable to hide its astonishing magnitude?!’

I am, of course, talking about Depardieu’s snout. His sniffer, son nez… his nose. It demands attention, it is truly captivating in its proportions, and it is (so it turned out) an absolutely perfect nose for the character of Alain Moreau – the aging French dance-hall singer so tenderly portrayed by Gérard.

And tender is an adjective that can be extended to describe the whole of the film. It’s a coming-of-middle-age story, affectionately told alongside a gentle mocking of life, love, and corny old music. The dingy dance-hall setting of ‘The Singer’ was immediately reminiscent of something out of ‘Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights’ and for the first few scenes I was expecting to find the whole thing inappropriately funny.

I did in fact laugh quite a lot throughout, but along with the film and its hapless protagonist, not at him. Xavier Giannoli, who wrote and directed the film, lovingly teases at the dated era of music, recognising its corny nature and accepting it with open arms. The soundtrack is composed largely of Gérard’s husky French crooning, which might not be to many people’s taste, but then that’s not only what the film is about.

Alain Moreau is rapidly becoming a has-been. The strikingly beautiful Marion (Cécile de France) is a depressed young mother recently separated from her partner living in a new town with a new job. Through an often unbalanced relationship, the unlikely pair help each other to move on from their increasingly gloomy circumstances and provide one another with – sometimes literally – a shoulder to cry on.

Although this odd romantic pairing initially seems like quite an ambitious one, it never actually feels forced or unnatural. This is largely thanks to Giannoli’s intelligent and gentle touch as writer and director, but also due to the utterly convincing characterisation of Alain by Depardieu. He really is an exceptional actor – with an absolutely magnificent nose.

I’m sure that ‘The Singer’ will not appeal to everyone. It is likely to be too slow-paced and uneventful for the average cinema-goer, and it’s definitely not of a traditional romance genre format.

However, just like some old love song effortlessly sung by an aging French crooner, if you open your heart to it and look beyond its mawkish exterior, you may just find that it grows on you.‘Oh, gosh, I had forgotten how big it was!” – the whispered words of surprise I heard from beside me in the cinema as Gérard Depardieu appeared upon the screen. This was completely understandable though, because he really does have a large one. It still makes me wonder; ‘how on earth did he manage to become one of France’s most prolific film actors, whilst for all of his life he has been unable to hide its astonishing magnitude?!’

I am, of course, talking about Depardieu’s snout. His sniffer, son nez… his nose. It demands attention, it is truly captivating in its proportions, and it is (so it turned out) an absolutely perfect nose for the character of Alain Moreau – the aging French dance-hall singer so tenderly portrayed by Gérard.

And tender is an adjective that can be extended to describe the whole of the film. It’s a coming-of-middle-age story, affectionately told alongside a gentle mocking of life, love, and corny old music. The dingy dance-hall setting of ‘The Singer’ was immediately reminiscent of something out of ‘Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights’ and for the first few scenes I was expecting to find the whole thing inappropriately funny.

I did in fact laugh quite a lot throughout, but along with the film and its hapless protagonist, not at him. Xavier Giannoli, who wrote and directed the film, lovingly teases at the dated era of music, recognising its corny nature and accepting it with open arms. The soundtrack is composed largely of Gérard’s husky French crooning, which might not be to many people’s taste, but then that’s not only what the film is about.

Alain Moreau is rapidly becoming a has-been. The strikingly beautiful Marion (Cécile de France) is a depressed young mother recently separated from her partner living in a new town with a new job. Through an often unbalanced relationship, the unlikely pair help each other to move on from their increasingly gloomy circumstances and provide one another with – sometimes literally – a shoulder to cry on.

Although this odd romantic pairing initially seems like quite an ambitious one, it never actually feels forced or unnatural. This is largely thanks to Giannoli’s intelligent and gentle touch as writer and director, but also due to the utterly convincing characterisation of Alain by Depardieu. He really is an exceptional actor – with an absolutely magnificent nose.

I’m sure that ‘The Singer’ will not appeal to everyone. It is likely to be too slow-paced and uneventful for the average cinema-goer, and it’s definitely not of a traditional romance genre format.

However, just like some old love song effortlessly sung by an aging French crooner, if you open your heart to it and look beyond its mawkish exterior, you may just find that it grows on you.