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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

February 5, 2009 at 5:30 PM

Happy birthday, Charlotte Rampling

The force of nature that is Charlotte Rampling turns 63 today, and that merits a mini-tribute to an performers whose catlike eyes never fail to mesmerize. Born in England and educated in France (she’s fluent in both languages and has divided her career between English and French-language films), she’s been making movies for more than four decades — and, at an age when many actresses find the work melting away, she keeps adding to her tally of remarkable roles. In “Under the Sand” (2000), she heartbreakingly plays a woman unable to cope with the mysterious disappearance of her husband; in “Swimming Pool” (2003) she’s a wryly bitter novelist finding a unique way to deal with writers’ block; in both “The Wings of the Dove” (1997) and “The Duchess” (2008) she donned elaborate period costumes to play a sly matriarch dictating a young woman’s marriage prospects.
All of these movies are rich experiences, but my favorite Rampling performance of the past decades comes from a little-known, terrific French thriller that came in and out of Seattle theaters very quickly in 2006. “Lemming,” directed by Dominik Moll (who also made the fine thriller “With a Friend Like Harry”), is both character drama and trippy suspense fantasy. It pits Rampling at her chilliest, complete with indoor sunglasses (you wonder if direct sunlight would make her crack, like a cold dish in an oven) against the ethereal Charlotte Gainsbourg, and it’s absolutely worth finding on Netflix or whatever, if you’re a Rampling fan and missed it:

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