L’ÉTRANGER - Gérard Depardieu and France part ways.
February 27, 2013 6:44 PM   Subscribe

In America, a politician should not appear too literate; in France, he should not appear overly interested in sums. A sort of spiritual innumeracy is required to prove that he is a serious person. “Economics is considered an obstacle to ideology, a constraint politicians prefer to avoid if they can,” Chamboredon said. Politicians in France speak to “citizens,” not to “taxpayers.” - The New Yorker: France’s anxiety about the budget crisis has fuelled resentment of the country’s most renowned tax exile.
posted by beisny (31 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Heh, sticks and stones.

Also, [...]he counted his pleasures: the tang of wild mint, the squelch of wet earth between his toes, the lingering musk of a fox. He left out the stuff about driving his enemies before him and hearing the lamentations of the women.

I can honestly say I have never seen a Depardieu film I liked.

I think 75% is too high, but I also think I'm tired of hearing how bad the rich have it. If there's a war on the rich the poor have picked an enemy with the resources to fight. If it's not the poor fighting, then it's rich on rich, and who are the rest of us to interfere in a civil matter?

I still think Depardieu and France deserve each other though. Someone send the Belgians a condolence card.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:56 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry, but any non-Chechen that can shout "Glory to Kadyrov!" and not be ironic or having been personally threatened with violence is an asshole.

...yes, that means I'm giving a pass to Chechens who are pro-Kadyrov. Hell, they've earned it, even if I personally disagree in a fairly strenuous fashion.

Depardieu, on the other hand?

posted by aramaic at 6:58 PM on February 27, 2013

Liberty, equality, fiscal solvency!
posted by Renoroc at 6:59 PM on February 27, 2013

A "Knights Who Say Ni" reference in the New Yorker? I don't know what to feel about that.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:59 PM on February 27, 2013

He also used Depardieu and masterpieces in the same sentence.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:07 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is horrifically selfish. I have no real opinion of Depardieu as an actor; I'm sure I've seen him in things I like, since I'm an insomniac who has access to two stations that show foreign films. But I tend to watch the kind of French movies that involve Jean Reno or Luc Besson. But why deprive your own country - that nurtures and celebrates you - of money?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:10 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Anyone who bristles at the idea that income may not be inextricably tied to merit need look only as far as three posts down, regarding the generational trickledown of British slavery profits.
posted by threeants at 7:11 PM on February 27, 2013

Depardieu may also settle in Russia. And why not? Russians love washed-up Francophone entertainers. Instead of Édith Piaf and Jacques Brel, they'd rather listen to Joe Dassin and Mireille Mathieu. However, in Depardieu's case, I'm afraid they might have mistaken him for Pierre Richard.
posted by Nomyte at 7:12 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Because paying more taxes is vastly less preferable than supporting a repressive government run by a despot.
posted by small_ruminant at 7:14 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Nobody pisses on an airplane aisle like la Depardieu when taxes are on the line.
posted by vozworth at 7:16 PM on February 27, 2013

France’s economic situation is dismal. Unemployment is at 10.6 per cent; Standard & Poor’s has downgraded the country’s credit rating; manufacturing is dying ... The most pressing challenge facing President François Hollande is the budget deficit, which, at four and a half per cent, hovers stubbornly above the European Union limit of three per cent.
I think the author needs to think about this little harder...

Anyway, seems kind of crazy. It's hard to imagine this won't hurt his popularity and thus his ability to earn money through residuals by more then 75% over the long run
posted by delmoi at 7:16 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

He should move to the US yada yada Green Card.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:25 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could write one of these "How to write about..." list with this article.

Let's see.
  • Always mention gastronomy. They eat cheese in France! and drink Wine!
  • Namedrop intellectuals, especially people Americans are likely to call "postmodernists".
  • France's economy is in crisis. It has always been in crisis.
  • Never pass the chance to mention the Academy. They have an Academy for their language!
  • In France, c'est bien connu, entrepreneurship is being stifled.
  • In the last analysis, everything is always about the Revolution.
  • Use French expressions inutilement, as they say over there.
Am I missing one?
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:33 PM on February 27, 2013 [17 favorites]

Auf revoir, Chunky!
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 7:50 PM on February 27, 2013

"The Socialists’ argument was a strange blend of philanthropic appeal and confiscatory threat...Was the supertax a charity benefit or a holdup?..."

"...I recently heard the novelist Hilary Mantel deliver a brilliant lecture at the British Museum, in which she asserted that, at the time of the French Revolution, the scandal of the monarchy “focussed the rays of misogyny” upon a single body, that of Marie Antoinette. (The lecture, “Undressing Anne Boleyn,” has been published in The London Review of Books, which commissioned it.) In a similar manner, the country’s anxieties about money had coalesced in the person of Depardieu..."

"...As a sort of economic creationist, Mélenchon is immune to data. He segued into psychobabble...
Lauren Collins could've saved a lot of time and just interviewed herself instead.
"....Now it’s not only the rich people who will go—it’s the people who want to be rich."
Oh no! Now I want to move to France.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:53 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

In case you're interested the “single most-hated person in (Uzbekistan)" Googoosha's duet with Depardieu it is here. In case you want to actually watch Depardieu in something good I'd recommend Vidocq.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:04 PM on February 27, 2013

Goes straight to Putin. What a tool.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:05 PM on February 27, 2013

n a chapter devoted to “Money,” he wrote, “In analysis, money is shit. I was truly in the shit, pal! Money, for me, had become completely abstract. It’s a thing that’s necessary to get used to quick, before it eats your head.” (It should not be lost to history that, after a rattling encounter with a dog, in 1978, Depardieu had three sessions with Jacques Lacan.)

Ha ha ha! Hey! I've heard of that Lacan guy, too! Ha!

This article is just incredibly lazy. Reporting by (self-styled "highbrow") reference. Ick.
posted by junco at 8:10 PM on February 27, 2013

Nobody pisses on an airplane aisle like la Depardieu

Having seen the man stumble off a plane I can believe that.

If I were a two-pot screamer I think I would have gotten drunk off his fumes.
posted by Mezentian at 8:59 PM on February 27, 2013

This was a bizarre article about a bizarre person illuminating a bizarre-to-Americans aspect of French culture.

I totally enjoyed the article, but I wasn't sure which parts weren't performance art.
posted by desuetude at 9:05 PM on February 27, 2013

In France, c'est bien connu, entrepreneurship is being stifled.
"the problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur" (sadly not a real quote, at least if you believe Tony Blair)
posted by delmoi at 9:57 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

The article also mentioned how generous Depardieu has been about donating his time to indie filmmakers. He may be a very, very odd duck (and always has been) but he is, in my opinion, an amazing actor. And after seeing him pilloried after a mistranslated article put words in his mouth about being a rapist -- starting a furore that possibly cost him the Oscar for CYRANO -- I have a tendency to cut him a break.

The Russia stuff, though -- including the denouncing of Pussy Riot -- is, unfortunately, making it very very hard to do that. Sometimes I think I should just never read any articles about anyone I like.
posted by OolooKitty at 10:01 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

A "Knights Who Say Ni" reference in the New Yorker? I don't know what to feel about that.

Badly. They got it all wrong.

The most pressing challenge facing President François Hollande is the budget deficit, which, at four and a half per cent, hovers stubbornly above the European Union limit of three per cent. Hollande, who campaigned on an anti-austerity platform, has promised to conjure thirty billion euros with a mixture of cuts and taxes. The government, like the Knights Who Say “Ni,” had demanded a shrubbery, and Depardieu had declined to furnish it.

If you are going to make a film reference, it helps to have seen the film.

The French government, like the Knights Who Say "Ni" had demanded a SECOND shrubbery. As with King Arthur, Depardieu was happy to provide the first shrubbery, one that looked nice, and wasn't too expensive.

It was when he returned with the first shrubbery that he discovered that the government was no longer the Knights of Sarkozy, but were now three-headed socialists who say "Ekky-ekky-ekky-ekky-Give us all your money."

When the three-headed socialists demanded of him ANOTHER SHRUBBERY, to be placed beside the first shrubbery, only slightly higher, giving a two-level effect and told him to chop down the mightiest tree in the forest with a 75% tax rate, Depardieu choose wisely to avoid continued confrontation with them and snuck out of the forest while the socialists bickered amongst themselves.
posted by three blind mice at 1:32 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I read a long article in a British paper a few weeks ago about Depardieu and while describing him as mercurial, emotional, generous, misanthropic and unpredictable and a gourmand who fought his way up from the streets basically seemed to paint a picture of an unwell man battling mental health issues and alcoholism.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:11 AM on February 28, 2013

I can honestly say I have never seen a Depardieu film I liked.

His Cyrano and Vatel are both well worth seeing. Indeed, he rather shows up the anglophones in Vatel. If you don't like costume drama, try La chevre, which is damned funny (and he's playing the straight man). Bizarre he may be, but as an actor, he is the goods.

The real story here is not movie stars or plutocrats or others in the I've-got-mine demographic, but the pigeons movement. Will it have legs, will the body politic shift in the face of economic pressure and foreign criticism? That is the thing to watch. Depardieu's oddities are just a distraction, tabloid fodder.

(Bit of obligatory Revolution history- Prior to 1789, tax collection was outsourced, and made a lot of entrepreneurial people seriously rich. (Much of the Levoisier money came from tax farming.) Imagine if, say, Goldman Sachs + Kroll did the work of the IRS. You can see how it might affect people's perceptions even at this late date.)
posted by BWA at 7:25 AM on February 28, 2013

Depardieu is an amazing actor who, like many people outside of their areas of expertise, is a fool, and in this case an especially entertaining/infuriating fool. It makes no sense to allow one's reactions to his behavior as a would-be tax exile and hanger-on of dictators to influence one's thoughts about his acting.

> I think 75% is too high

Just to remind everyone: under Eisenhower, the top marginal income tax rate was 91%, and the U.S. economy didn't do too badly in the '50s. To quote J.J. Goldberg:
Reagan, in office from 1981 to 1989, inherited a 70% tax rate and lowered it steadily to 28%. Eisenhower’s presidency saw steady growth, low unemployment, a rising middle-class standard of living and largely balanced budgets. The Reagan years saw growth essentially no better than Eisenhower’s, coupled with high unemployment, stagnant middle-class incomes and a skyrocketing national debt.

And yet, somehow, the lesson we’ve come away with is that low taxes create jobs, boost growth and generate prosperity.
posted by languagehat at 7:36 AM on February 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

Well, he's done some insanely good stuff back in the day, especially what he did with Bertrand Blier. On peut y aller les yeux fermés ;-). French cinema is subsidized by the state, and that's why he's criticized as an ungrateful jerk. By the way, equality is a big deal over here, that's right, but you don't have to be too deep into French culture to find this.
Reading the article, I can't help but thinking about Georges Brassens, stating that "profit is an abomination" and Albert Cossery, un Français d'élection, who wrote that poor men stay in their state because they're the ones who don't know how to steal.
posted by nicolin at 8:16 AM on February 28, 2013

Am I missing one?

Hehe. Only something somewhere about rude waiters, based on one or two experiences in Paris, which are always then extended to the entire country, which the author has almost never visited, or only done so for a couple of days. In which case, there's a 99% chance that PROVENCE!!!! will be mentioned, alongside a breathless description of LAVENDER. Even and especially if they've never set foot there, nor seen an actual lavender plant, but only been in Nice, which was never part of Provence, and bought some cheap lavandin (Lavandula × intermedia, not the same thing as true lavender, which is lavandula angustifolia) at a market. But I digress.

I digress in part because, like, one of the first things I learned after first arriving in France 16 years ago was that Depardieu is an asshole. He seemed pretty shitty towards his son (Guillaume); it came through rather obviously whenever either of the two were interviewed on live shows here. Gérard always had this inexplicably seething contempt towards his son, it seemed so immature, whereas Guillaume had a more straightforward anger and desperation about their relationship. Depardieu père may be respected as an actor, but as a person, yeah, the dislike of him in France isn't really news.
posted by fraula at 10:52 AM on February 28, 2013

Am I missing one?
I thought that the article did a pretty good job at describing the Depardieu affair, because getting the French perspective indeed requires a little bit of everything: the Revolution, wine & cheese, Lacan, the state of French economy, Astérix (though the article should have mentioned Obélix) etc. are really linked here and the reports in the French media about that story have also mixed similar ingredients. Depardieu is a bigger than life character, a sum much larger than its contradictory parts (pauper/billionaire, genius/hack, asshole/sensitive, intellectual/philistine, shrewd/idiot, gross/refined, left-wing/right-wing etc.). The man is free, in the best and (lately) in the worst possible ways. The only minor thing that the articles fails to describe is the WTF moment experienced by his free-market supporters when he announced his move to Russia. And then, Depardieu showed up unexpectedly last week at Cinémathèque Française and paid a moving tribute to his late friend Maurice Pialat.
posted by elgilito at 2:48 PM on February 28, 2013

The new yorker, about some bright moments in Depardieu's career.
posted by nicolin at 8:31 AM on March 1, 2013

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