Born in 1948 in a French village scarred by Nazi occupation, film star Gerard Depardieu grew up with a stutter and severe hearing problems, exacerbated by parents who rarely talked in whole sentences. How this loner, school dropout and petty thief conquered his emotional traumas and went on to play eloquent soldier-poet Cyrano de Bergerac, a Resistance hero in The Last Metro and a rebel or sexual provacateur in dozens of other movies makes for an amazing life story. Chutkow, who writes on film for the New York Times and Vogue , peers behind the public mask of bravado to probe a serious, complex artist given to mood swings and workaholic excess. This engaging biography also investigates the scandal surrounding a 1991 profile in Time that quoted Depardieu as admitting that he had committed rape at age nine, a statement he subsequently denied making. Chutkow's analysis, based on Time 's own tape and interview transcript, supports Depardieu's denial and, in effect, charges the magazine with inaccurate journalism. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Toward the end of this addictive biography, the author exposes a critic who seriously and unjustly maligned the great French actor Grard Depardieu via a willful misinterpretation of the French word assister, an act that threatened the actor's career and personal life. The double irony is that Depardieu's life up until that point had been a search for the American dream and a way to overcome his personal problems with speech. Three things make this recording a rich morsel: Chutkow's attention to every subtext of Depardieu's impossibly dramatic life; the exquisite, on-the-mark voices (in several different accents) of narrator Frederick Davidson; and the comments of Depardieu and his circle of friends that delve into the actor's development and psyche, revealing his huge appetite for life, absolute lack of ego, phoenix-like spirit, remarkable lack of honesty, and great heart. Recommended for public libraries.Mark Pumphrey, Polk Cty. P.L., Columbus, N.C.
In an intimate portrait of the renowned and ubiquitous (more than 70 films in 22 years) actor, Chutkow unveils the many guises of Depardieu the celebrity, revealing the complex family man behind the public persona. Depardieu's difficult childhood, the intense energy that drives him in life and in work, and his wife, who soothes his savage soul, are all here, along with high and low points from his career. And in an estimable act of reporting, Chutkow presents a clarification of the interview used as source material for a "Time" magazine profile on Depardieu. The resulting international furor, surrounding assertions that Depardieu discussed crimes of rape committed during his youth, threw the actor into a downward spiral and continues to affect him and his family today. Fans will relish Chutkow's expansive portrait that goes a long way in explaining the magnetic persona of this rough-hewn, ungainly, yet rivetingly alluring actor.