There’s no discussing the late Romy Schneider (1938-1982) without acknowledging how beautiful she was. She was ravishing. But you’re also missing a great deal if you can’t see past that. She was a riveting actress who always seemed connected to something primal and fearless and yet wide open to whatever.
It was a huge shock when Schneider died at only 43. A year earlier her son David, 14, was accidentally killed while climbing a steel-spike fence. (Remember Gregory Peck‘s horrified memory of his brother dying in a similar way in Spellbound?) Romy understandably succumbed to drink after that. She reportedly passed from a heart attack.
While in Cannes I saw Lucie Caries‘ Romy, Femme Libre.
I chose not to review because I felt that the doc was bending over backwards to praise Scheider six ways from Sunday, any way it could. A feminist take that was committed to protecting her and having her back, but also, it seemed, to a form of worship. It was and is my feeling that Schneider deserved a somewhat franker look at who she was and wanted to be, warts and all — a film as honest about her life as she was honest with herself and her admirers while performing.
Over and over the film basically said that everything Schnieder said and did was somehow glorious or even radiant. I found myself pulling back. Rather than rain on the doc and out of my respect for Ms. Schneider, I decided to say nothing. But an hour ago I was asked for a reaction by a publicist, and my feelings just poured out.