Friday, February 5, 2016

The bad taste of Charlotte Rampling













Charlotte Rampling has been leaving a bad taste in my mouth for a lot longer than her major PR blunder a few weeks back, when she made light of the Oscars' failure to nominate any actors of color. Which was obviously a dumb thing to say no matter what the circumstances, but even dumber under her particular circumstances. She suggested that maybe the black actors did not "deserve" to make the shortlist -- while she herself did make this list for the movie 45 Years.

So that experience was kind of gratifying for me, as it allowed me to attach a legitimate reason to the nebulous dislike I have always felt for her.

Not liking her has always been problematic for me, because I have never been able to pinpoint why I didn't like her.

Secretly, I was worried it was because I wasn't attracted to her, which would be a shallow reason indeed. I've never doubted her abilities as an actress. She's always good. But I always don't really like her, and I wondered if it was something about not liking her appearance.

And I've concluded that it is, but not in the way you might think.

My wife and I often talk about how we don't like someone's face. That's not to say they're ugly, or that they have an objectively disagreeable face. Just that we don't like it.

Her go-to example is Australian actress Melissa George. There is almost no doubt that Melissa George is objectively attractive. But my wife doesn't like her face, and her intangible logic has swayed me. Now, I don't like Melissa George's face either.

My same-gender go-to example is probably Eddie Redmayne. Never liked his face. Probably never will.

But Charlotte Rampling is one of a dozen or so I regularly think of when considering this issue of nebulous distaste. Now I can attach something concrete to it, with these casually racist comments from which she has tried her best to back away.

Because it's a quintessentially subjective thing, I'll probably have a hard time describing what it is about Rampling's face I don't like. But since it's probably worth more than just me wimping out on that challenge, let me try.

She has a schlumpy face. She's got a very pronounced pout, and as she usually plays characters who are at least somewhat disagreeable, her face spends a lot of time schlumping and pouting. You'll get some idea of what I'm talking about from that bathtub scene above.

She also always seems irritable. Her eyes drooping at the sides, mirroring her droopy mouth and ready to show her irritation with anyone who crosses her path.

So now is it ageism I'm guilty of? Rampling is 69. When you are knocking on the door of 70, things droop.

But no. See her here. Even when she was "objectively beautiful," she still had a droopy tendency on the sides that contributed to something about her face I don't like.


The funny thing about Rampling is that she's in a lot of films I love, making her a bit like the Andie MacDowell of her age group. (Andie MacDowell being another example of a person whose face I don't like. Actually, Rampling is only 12 years older than MacDowell.)

I haven't seen a single film she appeared in before 1982. But that 1982 film, The Verdict, is a classic. Others since then I cherish are Lemming, Melancholia and Never Let Me Go, and I really like Angel Heart, Swimming Pool, The Mill and the Cross and Young & Beautiful.

Well whatever. I don't like that droopy face and I don't like those comments she made, and somehow, I feel vindicated by all this.

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