Beloved Aussie star Col­lette en­chants French di­rec­tor with her per­for­mance in a new film dis­sect­ing no­tions of class in a free so­ci­ety

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - DANIELLE MC­GRANE

Toni Col­lette is def­i­nitely not ter­ri­ble, de­spite the in­fa­mous on­screen con­dem­na­tion of her char­ac­ter in her break­out per­for­mance in Muriel’s Wed­ding.

In fact, the role kick-started a ca­reer that took her to Hol­ly­wood more than 20 years ago and has fea­tured a Golden Globe, an Emmy and an Os­car nom­i­na­tion.

As the world pre­pares to meet a new Muriel in the cast an­nounce­ment for Syd­ney The­atre Com­pany’s up­com­ing mu­si­cal ver­sion of the film, Col­lette’s lat­est movie, Madame, pre­mieres at the Syd­ney Film Fes­ti­val.

“Since Muriel, I’ve been amazed by her ... any­one who works with Toni is ob­sessed to work with her again,” di­rec­tor Amanda Sthers says.

“She’s not in my next movie but I’m go­ing to write an­other part for her.”

The French di­rec­tor is in Syd­ney to pro­mote what will be her first English-lan­guage fea­ture film.

A cel­e­brated writer, Sthers has writ­ten nine nov­els and many plays and has been awarded the Che­va­lier des Arts et des Let­tres medal by the French gov­ern­ment.

Her ta­lent with the writ­ten word is all it took to get Col­lette on board.

“I sent it to Toni, be­cause she was my dream ac­tor, with­out think­ing she would ever con­sider it and she loved the script,” Amanda says.

“Some­times you’re dis­ap­pointed when you meet some­one that you ad­mire so much and it was the op­po­site, she’s a great per­son and I think we are friends now. She’s a great ac­tor but she’s also a great hu­man be­ing.”

The film cen­tres around a wealthy Amer­i­can cou­ple, played by Col­lette and Hol­ly­wood star Har­vey Kei­tel, who have re­lo­cated to a Parisian manor house for a break.

While there, they throw a din­ner party for some high­so­ci­ety guests, but at the last minute the cou­ple’s maid, played by Span­ish ac­tor Rossy de Palma, joins the party in or­der to make up the num­bers.

What en­sues is a film that dis­sects and un­cov­ers no­tions of class in a sup­pos­edly free so­ci­ety, as Amanda ex­plores the meet­ing of cap­i­tal­ism with old-world Euro­pean ideals.

“I wanted this cul­tural shock and have this cou­ple try­ing to make it work in Paris with the cliche of the ro­man­tic city,” she says.

“The Amer­i­can sys­tem, like any sys­tem, when it’s trans­posed to a place where they don’t have their usual rules, it falls apart.”

In the movie, Col­lette takes on her most nar­cis­sis­tic role yet but was the eas­i­est ac­tor to work with, ac­cord­ing to Amanda.

“She’s like a clock, she’s so steady,” she says.

“She can do all the same things that she just did, even mov­ing her hair at the same mo­ment, but when you see it it’s just com­pletely nat­u­ral so you don’t un­der­stand how she’s do­ing it.

“You don’t feel that she’s act­ing and she just changes the slight­est thing you ask her to change. She’s the most amaz­ing ac­tor I’ve ever seen.” Madame opens in Aus­tralian cine­mas Au­gust 17

Toni Col­lette plays a wealthy Amer­i­can who has re­lo­cated to Paris with her hus­band in French com­edy-drama Madame.

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