PORTRAIT – Soul of Audrey Diwan’s shocking film, awarded in Venice, on the reality of an illegal abortion in France in the 60s, the 22-year-old Franco-Romanian actress promises to be one of the young actresses most in demand of the moment.
Girl manipulated and eroticized by her mother in My little princess, dauphine sacrificed on the altar of geopolitics and marriage in The exchange of Princesses, student of The event Audrey Diwan, who illegally aborts in conservative France in the 1960s to preserve her dreams of social advancement.
With each role in her nascent filmography (a dozen feature films), Anamaria Vartolomei’s faded blue gaze pierces our hearts and haunts our minds. He never wavers, boils with the same insolence, determination and curiosity. With The event, the adaptation of the autobiographical novel by Annie Ernaux crowned with a Golden Lion in Venice, the 22-year-old Franco-Romanian actress has entered a new dimension. It now appears on the radars of major French and international filmmakers. Here is everything you need to know about the one who, preselected in the list of hopes of French cinema, is in pole position to leave with the César of female revelation this winter.
A childhood in Romania
Born in April 1999 in North-East Romania in Bacau, ten years after the fall of dictator Ceausescu, Anamaria Vartolomei saw her parents, manager in tourism and nurse, leave for England and then France when she was not was only two years old. They then entrust her to her grandparents. It was only after having put enough money aside by creating her building business that her father brought her to the Paris region four years later. The family moved to Issy-les-Moulineaux. Anamaria Vartolomei does not speak a word of our language. But she learns quickly. Studious, she is always among the top of the class, but she does not escape, as she tells our sisters of the Figaro Madame, to certain xenophobic remarks from his comrades. The school also introduced him to the world of the stage and the boards. Along with her brilliant education, she took theater classes: “To encourage my passion, my father sought advice from an actress with whom he worked, Sophie-Marie Gilbert-Desvallons, who suggested that he register me for film castings”, remembers the actress.
Isabelle Huppert godmother of cinema
One day, Anamaria Vartolomei’s parents stumble upon the film’s announcement My Little Princess. Eva Ionesco is looking for a young actress to play the role of Violetta, an autobiographical story in which the director looks back on her childhood at the hands of her narcissistic photographer mother who eroticizes her and transforms her into a femme fatale. Anamaria is chosen from among 500 pre-teens to give the answer to Isabelle Huppert. She is only 10 years old and no cinema experience. The drama is screened in Cannes. At 12, the schoolgirl caused a sensation and made an impression in a Chanel chiffon dress, perched on lamé pumps. The haute couture house will keep it in its little papers. Her on-the-skin interpretation of Violetta earned her a nomination for the Lumière Award for best hope.
Supporting training roles
Anamaria Vartolomei doesn’t let this promising word of mouth get to her head. Even though a picture of her in My little princess is used to adorn the poster for Critics’ Week in 2012. It finds its way back into the school benches. For “Sharpen your game”, she enrolled in the Cours Florent, studied at the drama school Les Enfants Terribles, in Paris at the same time as she began a course in modern letters.
We see her again in a series of supporting roles: Jacky in the kingdom of girls (2014) by Riad Sattouf where she plays the head of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s close guard, The Ideal (2016), by Frédéric Beigbeder and The exchange of princesses (2017) by Marc Dugain on the agony of Mademoiselle de Montpensier, grand niece of Louis XIV, at the court of Spain. In 2020, she is one of the wanton residents of the school for young girls of Juliette Binoche in The Good Wife.
The one who discovered Annie Ernaux’s book while preparing for her hearing immediately convinced Audrey Diwan. Of the tests of the actress who is practically of all plans, the Lebanese director says: “She had the necessary physical dimension, something that is in the order of mystery and power; this diaphanous skin, this very internalized gaze.The confinement interrupts the preparation of the film but turns out to be a godsend. Actress and filmmaker call each other every day. “We really had the time to draw together the character of Anne, we drew from books, films, and during the shooting, we had to color the drawing, but we had made all the traces”, confided Aamaria to Release. Among the references of this film: Rosetta the Dardenne brothers, Saul’s son by Lazlo Nemes or Black swan by Darren Arrownosky …
On the set, Anamaria Vartolomei appropriates her character, her gaze below, the particular phrasing of the 60s. The most difficult is the scene of the abortion and the expression of pain. “Getting to be fair was difficult. Audrey was very close to me in those moments, we worked a lot on the breath, she put herself in front of me, we breathed together to find a rhythm, each time different because none of the pains that my character faces. looks like”, continues the young woman in Release. “I really put myself in his shoes. I said to myself we are both 21 years old, what is it for a young girl to have an abortion ”. And to underline: “I am fortunate to have acquired rights which are still fragile. I defended her with as much interest as possible, because Anne has to choose between her studies, her career or her life. It is unfair !”
A promising tomorrow
The event is the first leading role of Anamaria Vartolomei. Getting off Anne’s skin was tricky: “Something very strong, very obvious happened. I wondered if I would be able to play without Audrey. But over time, I realize that the fact that she is so nourished by my work gives me confidence. As a teenager, I was very reserved, very discreet, and I confined myself a little to this type of role. Today I feel capable of much more ». The one who is very close to other young shoots of her generation, like Lyna Khoudri (Papicha, The French Dispatch), now searches “Increasingly rich, complicated, nuanced, jaw-dropping, ambiguous roles”. What the Monique and Matisse by Anne Fontaine. She plays Monique Bourgeois, a nurse who became a model of the painter before entering orders. You have to believe that she has faith in this profession.