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The Beguiling Bujold: The Quad Celebrates the Career of the French-Canadian Actress

Everett Collection Obsession De Palma
Everett Collection

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The Beguiling Bujold: The Quad Celebrates the Career of the French-Canadian Actress

A week-long retrospective sampling the impressive filmography of French Canadian actor Genevieve Bujold begins August 10th at The Quad, a cherry-picked bushel of cinematic delights featuring a bevy of renowned international auteurs. The retrospective is all the more consequential considering the infrequently working septuagenarian’s reluctance as a cinematic presence outside of her native Quebec, and is not designed to showcase anything looming on the horizon. Instead, this is merely a celebration of the bilingual beauty’s contributions to the cinematic arts from a career which has spanned six decades.

Today, Bujold is probably best remembered by genre auteur enthusiasts thanks to her appearance in David Cronenberg’s 1988 cult classic Dead Ringers, as the feminist opposite a curiously calibrated Clint Eastwood in the 1984 thriller Tightrope, or in the medical thriller Coma (1978), based on the Robin Cook novel and directed by Michael Crichton.

Handpicked by none other than Alain Resnais, who cast her as the female lead in The War is Over (1966) starring Yves Montand, Bujold stayed in France to make two other titles before returning to Canada, where she would marry director Paul Almond, who made efforts to instill the notion of art cinema in the Canadian industry (having directed the first installation of the Seven Up doc series taken over by Michael Apted, he created a trilogy of films starring his then wife, the most profitable of which was 1968’s Isabel).

Her most notable awards glory came early in her career thanks to her starring role in Charles Jarrott’s Anne of the Thousand Days, in which played the tragic Anne Boleyn opposite Richard Burton’s Henry the VIII and scored a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nod. But Bujold famously shunned her contract with Universal Studios and flew to Greece to star in Michael Cacoyannis’ glossy version of The Trojan Women with Vanessa Redgrave and Katharine Hepburn. Patching things up in Hollywood saw Bujold make a few rare appearances in studio fare (like Earthquake and Swashbuckler) before she appeared in Brian De Palma’s gothic re-hash of Vertigo with 1976’s Obsession.

The retrospective covers Bujold’s most prolific period, ranging from her 1966 debut to 1988 (although some of her 90s titles would have been welcome, particularly 1997’s The House of Yes), where she would headline with Cronenberg opposite Jeremy Irons as a pair of twin gynecologists and appear in her third film by Alan Rudolph.

Although Bujold still appears on screen (recently, she starred in 2015’s Chorus), her reclusiveness is not without reason. “All the external decorations are less important than giving yourself the gift of time,” she explained during press rounds for 2012’s Still Mine. But at least for the next week, one can behold the beguiling and beautiful, bold Bujold.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, TIFF and AFI. His top 3 for 2016: Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade), Elle (Paul Verhoeven) and OJ: Made in America (Ezra Edelman).

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