“I’ve loved you for 25 years,”, is what comes out in the middle of a domestic brawl between Charlotte Gainsbourg and Yvan Attal in a particularly emotionally-charged moment during My Dog Stupid (Mon chien Stupide), directed by the latter and starring both, because that’s exactly what it’s like in real life too and we’d even have to add on an extra few years to that as they’ve been sharing their lives since 1991. The film is not so much a very free adaptation of the hilarious John Fante novel, West of Rome on which the movie is based (although moving the action from Malibu to the French Basque Country), as a new filmed chapter in the life of this extraordinarily long-lived French cinema couple.
The saga started a few years ago with My Wife Is an Actress (2001), an absolutely delicious comedy, with Charlotte at the peak of her maximum splendor, and Attal playing a sports journalist who cannot abide the fact that his wife is so famous, and so desired by everyone, from the fine-waiving traffic cops to the veteran love star (Terence Stamp) with whom she has to shoot a fiery sex scene. Happily Ever After (2004) continued, always with Attal behind the camera, although the film unfortunately was never released here in Spain. One of the happy couples’ three kids, Ben, already featured in this movie and who now reappears, already more grown up, in My Dog Stupid, where he plays a post-adolescent pot-smoker, something taken directly from the novel, but in turn based on Fante’s own experiences (his eldest son, Nick, died as a result of his addictions), as of Ben himself who, as his father acknowledged, “had also been there”. In fact, the joints play an essential role in the plot, as they will be cathartic for the couple in another memorable scene.
My Dog Stupid is therefore a must-see movie for Fante fans, among which I include myself, as for those of the Attals, among which I also include myself, as well as a slightly unhospitable mirror for long-term couples, among which I must include myself once again. As for Charlotte and Yvan, well, as could be expected, they met while shooting a film: In the Eyes of the World (Éric Rochant, 1991), and would then coincide once again a year later on the set of Lover (Jacques Doillon, 1992), which was packed with messy love affairs: Charlotte gets pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is. One of the candidates could be Attal. Both have recognized that the beginnings of their relationship were extremely complicated, and that they’ve had their ups and downs, the classic turbulence, over the years. But there they are, still together, on and off the screen, hopelessly in love, debunking the cliché that in the world of cinema, nothing lasts.
And they’ve created a school, because Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard have been together since 2007, and they’ve also had fun parodying their life as a couple in Rock’n Roll (2017), directed by Canet, in addition to working together in Little White Lies, and the recent sequel Little White Lies 2. But what can I say? If I had to choose, I’d pick a night on the town with Serge Gainsbourg’s daughter, and her husband as a pleasant accessory. She’s an infinitely better actress than the always somewhat stunned Cotillard, regardless of the fact that she won the Oscar for playing Edith Piaf. For starters, she has worked with Lars von Trier three times, and no other actress in the world has that much stamina. And when it comes to longevity, Cotillard and Canet are nothing more than mere beginners: There’s only 12 years between them! Not bad for a start.