‘Madame Claude’: gritty Netflix take on Paris sex icon

She was a salacious icon of 20th century Paris — the brothel-keeper to the stars — and Netflix hopes the basis for another hit in the recent run of French successes.

In the 1960s and 1970s, “Madame Claude”, real name Fernande Grudet, had a client book that read like the guest list to a royal wedding: captains of industry, President John F Kennedy, Marlon Brando, the Shah of Iran…

There were enough secrets being divulged on her pillows to ensure protection from the authorities, as well as considerable interest from the secret services.

But in the latest telling, released on Netflix on April 2, the glamour in which her story was often shrouded is stripped away to show a darker reality.

“There is the image of Madame Claude: of Paris, beautiful dresses and big hotels, power… What interested me was what was happening behind the scenes,” director Sylvie Verheyde, 54, told AFP.

Behind the scenes were ties to organised crime, a life of emotional misery and a near-pathological lack of scruples: Madame Claude, it emphasises, always made sure to get her 30 percent, even when the girls returned bruised and bloodied from an encounter gone wrong.

“Madame Claude built her mythology. She was a great liar, a fraud who said she wanted to ‘beautify vice’, which meant brushing all the ugliness under the carpet,” said Verheyde.

– ‘This isn’t love’ –

The director knows this world well: a grandmother and cousin both worked as prostitutes, and she tackled the subject already in her 2016 film “Sex Doll”.

Continue reading “‘Madame Claude’: gritty Netflix take on Paris sex icon”

Call My Agent! celeb cameos: All the stars in the French Netflix show

 

Call My Agent, was a hit on French television, and ran for four seasons. The quirky French comedy-drama has also been a surprise hit in the U.S.

Now available on Netflix, new viewers are taking note of the many celeb cameos featured in the series.

Juliette Binoche

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Hollywood stars like Juliette Binoche feature in this French show (Credit: Netflix)

Juliette Binoche appears in series two, episode six.

This big-name French actress has starred in the likes of Chocolat, The English Patient, Dan in Real Life and Cosmopolis.

Monica Bellucci

Monica Bellucci appears in series three episode.

She is best known for starring in Spectre, The Apartment, Matrix Reloaded and Tears of the Sun.

monica bellucci in call my agent
Monica Bellucci in Call My Agent (Credit: Netflix)

Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver appears in series four episode five.

This major Hollywood star is perhaps most famous for starring in the Alien movies.

And also for her movie roles in Avatar, Galaxy Quest and the Ghostbusters films.

sigourney weaver
Sigourney Weaver is one of the many celebrity cameos in Call My Agent! (Credit: Netflix)

Jean Reno

Jean Reno appears in the final episode of the show – series four episode six.

He is a French-Moroccan actor who is particularly well-known for starring in Leon: The Professional. As well as for his roles in the likes of Godzilla, The Da Vinci Code and Mission: Impossible.

call my agent cameos
Actor Jean Reno is a huge Hollywood star (Credit: Netflix)

Jean Dujardin

Jean Dujardin appears in series three episode one and also episode six of this series.

He is perhaps best known for starring in the the silent movie The Artist. This won him the Oscar for Best Actor – a first for any French actor.

Isabelle Huppert

Isabelle Huppert appears in series three episode four.

This French actress has starred in films such as The Piano Teacher, Greta, I Heart Huckabees and The Bedroom Window.

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Source: Call My Agent! celeb cameos: All the stars in the French Netflix show

Falling Back in Love With French via Netflix

French Netflix

How shows like “Lupin” and “Call My Agent!” have inspired me to pursue French fluency.

Growing up with a francophile mother, French has always been part of my life. My special stuffed animal was Babar the elephant, and weekends were spent singing the translated version of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with a group of children who were far more multilingual than me. In college, I spent a year studying in Paris, living with a host family and their three-legged dog, Colonel Moutard. Still, like many adults who spent their school years learning a foreign language, my opportunities to speak it dwindled after graduation, and so did my confidence. Continue reading “Falling Back in Love With French via Netflix”

Best French Shows on Netflix — ‘Lupin’ & ‘Call My Agent!’ Review

Francophilia finally comes to Netflix.

By Leena Kim

Until very recently, French content on Netflix left un petit peu to be desired. It hasn’t been a barren landscape, exactly, but the genre hadn’t quite reached the level of American success as shows and films from some other foreign nations (see: Korean dramas and the Spanish hit Money Heist). And no, Emily in Paris does not count.

Now, the Breton tides have turned. Take the critical and commercial successes of Lupin and Call My Agent! The former, which premiered on Netflix earlier this month, is projected to hit 70 million views in its first 28 days, surpassing The Queen’s Gambit, and the latter, whose fourth and final season dropped on the streaming platform last week, has been around since 2015 but is finally getting the international attention it deserves.

The acclaim is warranted; these two shows are excellent. But there’s also the perpetual American obsession with all things French and especially anything with Paris as a backdrop, which is even more wanderlust-inducing during this era of quarantine and border lockdowns. This truth undoubtedly explains Emily in Paris‘s outsize, if polarizing, popularity last fall. Refreshingly, these shows are free of tired clichés about Parisian life, and hopefully indicative of what’s to come. Netflix has made a clear commitment to investing in France: last year the streaming behemoth opened sprawling new headquarters in Paris and pledged to double its investment in French productions and partnerships.

But until then, put these two gems in your queue ASAP.

Arsène Lupin is as indelible to the cultural canon of France as Sherlock and Bond are to England. For those unfamiliar with this gentleman chief and master of disguise, created by novelist Maurice Leblanc in 1905, think of him as an early 20th-century Danny Ocean, except that Lupin works alone and only robs those who really deserve it—usually severely ethically challenged one percenters. There have been countless adaptations of the character, in TV, film, theatre, video games, literature, even a Japanese manga series.

Continue reading “Best French Shows on Netflix — ‘Lupin’ & ‘Call My Agent!’ Review”

‘Call My Agent!’: Camille Cottin on Portraying Paris Without the Clichés

The final season of the hit French show is now on Netflix.

BY LALE ARIKOGLU

If there’s been one unexpected hit during a time when our main activity is Netflix and, well, more Netflix, it’s Call My Agent!

The French television show set at a Parisian talent agency has been a lighthearted salve thanks to its razor sharp depictions of the relationships between stars and their agents—not to mention the added charm of Paris as its backdrop. It’s fourth and final season is now available to stream here in the U.S. and comes complete with cameos from big names like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sigourney Weaver, as well as the usual competitive antics we’ve come to expect from its beloved cast. We caught up with Camille Cottin, who plays the incomparable Andréa Martel, to talk about the challenges her character faces, Parisian clichés, and what she has missed most about the city during lockdown.

The show launched in France in 2015 but it really only landed on most American’s radars this past year. How do you think it’s been received by the different audiences?

It’s difficult to have popular and critical success at the same time, but that is what happened in France, and it’s funny to see all this interest starting again now. I just read an article in the New York Times saying that what makes the show interesting is [the way] it talks about the industry. Previously, the industry was always shown as cynical, and this is a tender show. There’s humor, there’s satire, we make fun of the people we’re depicting, but at the same time, there’s love, big love for cinema, big love for actors, big love for the people of the industry.

The producers [told me] they were quite surprised that it had an international echo, though, because it only talks about French actors. But it really depicts a star: the selfie star, or the nervous star, or the jealous star. Plus, the [agency] is like a family, they are all figures with whom you can identify with—and their [dynamics] of power, competition, and jealousy. The problems they deal with are human ones.

Paris, of course, is the backdrop to those relationships. What have been some of your favorite locations to film in?

Well, I loved the flat they gave [Andréa], which is twice the size of mine! But one true favorite is the scene at the end of season one: [My character] just got dumped and I feel lonely and sad, walking along that very famous bridge,

Continue reading “‘Call My Agent!’: Camille Cottin on Portraying Paris Without the Clichés”

Call My Agent: the French TV hit that viewers and actors adore

The comedy, whose fourth series hits Netflix this week, shows France’s TV can match its film

Fast approaching 50 and fed up after two exhausting decades at Artmedia, the top talent agency in Paris, Dominique Besnehard decided, one day in 2005, that he would quite like to turn his hand to producing something of his own.

“At the time,” Besnehard told Le Monde, “Desperate Housewives was all over the telly, a huge success. I just thought, with a couple of colleagues, we could maybe make a series a bit like that, but about the job we do for a living.”

Call My Agent, whose fourth series starts on Netflix this week, is now a huge hit – and has, along with Spiral and The Bureau, two other acclaimed series, fully and perhaps finally disproved the dictum that France is as bad at TV drama as it is good at cinema.

“France is really benefiting from a global trend in TV series towards strong, original, local stories, anchored in their territory and free of American and British norms,” said Laurence Herszberg, director of the international Series Mania festival.

The show, she said, was so big because it was “set in a milieu we don’t know well but would like to; because the agents are sympathetic and passionate and people like them even more than the guest stars; because it’s very French – it’s in Paris, it has office love affairs … And because it’s on Netflix.”

Call My Agent, whose French title is Dix pour Cent (for the 10% fee French agents charge actors), draws between 3 and 4 million viewers on public broadcaster France 2 and is available around the world on the streaming service.

Continue reading “Call My Agent: the French TV hit that viewers and actors adore”