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t's just gone midnight at the after-party for Grace of Monaco,
the opening gala for this year's Cannes Film Festival. In the
VIP area of the glamorous Studio 5 venue, Audrey Tautou
is chatting casually, wearing a full-length Prada dress and
midnight blue heels. With those deep brown, saucer eyes
and waish frame, she's almost cartoon-like; her hair styled
in that pixie crop familiar to audiences ever since she burst
on to our screens as the heroine of 2001's Amélie.
Not one to raise her head above the celebrity parapet unless
she has to, it's a rarity to see her at the premiere for a lm she
doesn't appear in. But then this is Cannes. She belongs here. In
2012, her lm Thérèse played here, showcasing her maturity as
a woman caught in a loveless marriage. Last year, she was the
maîtresse de cérémonie, tasked with opening and closing the festival,
a rare honour that suggests just how beloved she has become - and
not before time - in the pantheon of French actresses.
The Gallic critics have not always been kind. 'We can hope
that the second half of Tautou's career might ourish away
from mediocrity,' noted the left-of-centre magazine Le Nouvel
Observateur. But this is what comes with mainstream success:
Amélie took $174 million around the globe. She followed it with a
role in the blockbuster The Da Vinci Code alongside Tom Hanks.
And then, just to irk the French intellectuals even more, she played
one of their nation's most culturally iconic characters, Coco Chanel.
Yet she's never wanted to be anointed to the A-List. 'I don't want
a career in Hollywood,' she tells me, away from the festival madness.
'My English is not that good, so I don't have the same freedom
that I have in France, speaking French, and also it's very di¡cult to
She's recognisable the world over yet struggles with
fame. Will some grittier �lm roles force the notoriously
private Audrey Tautou out of her shell? WORDS JAMES MOTTRAM 'I DON'T FEEL
IS LOOKING AT'
MARCEL HARTMANN / CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES