Better known these days as the partner of American actor Johnny Depp, the incredibly beautiful French actress/singer/model Vanessa Paradis had a successful career of her own in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
Skyrocketing to fame with her debut album "M&J" in 1987 at the age of 14, I was transfixed by her beauty and smoldering demeanor as she performed her first hit single "Joe Le Taxi" on the (now-defunct) British pop show "The Roxy" (think American Bandstand, but with a 1980s cool). I asked a French pen-pal of mine to collect all articles she could find on Paradis and she obliged and it was from one of these French clippings that I learned .that Paradis had been signed to appear in the movie "Noce Blanche" (a.k.a. White Wedding).
I hoped and hoped that the movie would be released in my native United Kingdom and never saw it advertised or arrive at any of my local theaters. Perhaps I had misunderstood the French clipping, perhaps the movie had not been completed? It was a couple of years later that I learned that not only had Paradis completed the movie, but she had a very lucrative career overseas as an actress. Appearing in such movies as "Une Chance Sur Deaux" (a.k.a. Half a Chance), "Elisa" and "Un amour de sorcière" all the while continuing her music career with the awesome album "Bliss."
In recent years I have managed to track down DVDs of her live concert performance "Au Zenith" as well as DVDs of the excellent thriller "Une Chance Sur Deaux" and enjoyable "Un amour de sorcière." Yet, "Noce Blanche" has so far evaded me. Until now.
Of course the DVD has been available in France for sometime, but only with its original French track, and no subtitles. Now, my French is fine, but I wanted to be able to watch this movie with my American (non-French-speaking) friends without having to provide a running translation, so I was very pleased to see a version with subtitles listed on Amazon UK.
So, armed with a region-free DVD player I ordered my copy and was not disappointed. Released in 1989 Paradis plays a parent-less, troubled, moody, but very smart 17-year-old student Mathilde Tessier who rarely shows up for class. The haggard 49-year-old philosophy professor François Hainaut (played by Bruno Cremer) takes an interest in her and resolves to tutor her.
Finally, and inevitably the two embark on an affair (understandably François is unable to resist Mathilde) and go to great lengths to keep it a secret from both François' wife and the school. Some may find it unrealistic that Mathilde would fall for François, but in the teacher she finds someone who cares for her and is willing to help her. Finally François decides to stay with his wife, much to the chagrin of Mathilde. The movie examines a range of emotions from anger, jealousy and love, and it is expertly scripted and directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau with incredible performances from both Paradis and Cremer all accompanied by a beautiful and at times haunting score.
Now, it may sound like a French version of "Fatal Attraction" but I will take "Noce Blanche" anyday. Not just because of the presence of Paradis, but the dour manner in which the proceedings are undertaken, and the incredible cinematography that include the shot of daylight streaming in over Paradis' body that was so provocative and memorable that it was the cover shot for the U.S. VHS release.
Of course there is a lot of nudity and the sight of a topless Vanessa Paradis makes this a worthwhile purchase anyway but Paradis really enlivens the film and turns in an impressive performance.