Patrick Dewaere: Thursday Great Acting Blogging
Patrick Dewaere is the great outsider of French acting - his career started in tandem with Depardieu, Blier's Les Valseuses (1974)making both of them stars. But while Depardieu cemented his image as a likable rouge (in Maitresse, Buffet froid and LouLou), Dewaere began to play some of the most desperate characters ever seen on screen. Dewaere had a way of throwing himself into roles that has rarely been matched in intensity - the only comparisons are Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence and Rip Torn in Coming Apart. His greatest role, I believe, was in Corneau's Serie Noire, a largely ignored masterpiece adapted from Jim Thompson's A Hell of a Woman.
Dewaere plays the role of Franck Poupart like his life depended on it (and perhaps it did). Dewaere gives the only performance that actually mirrors Thompson's written originals - Dewaere makes us believe that Dewaere is just as much a loser in real life as his role, and just as crazy (if not more so) in real life than the role demanded. Nobody has ever done frustration better than Dewaere. And we almost never see a character quite like Franck - the only comparison I know is Jason Holliday in Shirley Clarke's Portrait of Jason.
It's convenient to say Dewaere's intensity was part of his pyschological make-up that led to his suicide in 1982 at the age of 34. I'm not so certain Dewaere was so easy to figure out as all that. Nevertheless, Dewaere will always retain that mystery of great artists who die young.