Rita Di Santo reviews 3 Days in Quiberon, a feminist rebuke which implicates the audience as well as the industry.
In May 1982, actress Romy Schneider was found dead in her Paris apartment. She had been in the middle of writing a letter to cancel an interview with a woman’s magazine when she suffered a heart attack, most probably caused by a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. She was only 43 years-old.
In 3 Days in Quiberon, French-Iranian-American writer-director Emily Atef reconstructs this last period of Romy Schneider’s life. From when, one year earlier, she checks into a ritzy hotel-resort in the Breton town of Quiberon with the intention of quitting alcohol for good.
Despite her fragile state and having previously been brutally attacked by the German press, Schneider agreed to an interview and photo shoot with Stern magazine. The interview would prove incendiary and would be her last before her death. Focusing on this intense encounter between actress, journalist, and photographer, as well as the childhood friend who tries to protect her, the film bares the soul of this tormented and fascinating actress.
The director seems almost to fall in love with her subject. Romy is beautiful, charismatic, and smart, with an angelic face. The elegant black and white photography is evocative and surreal; time seems to stop. Marie Bäumer’s performance is magnetic and captivating. She approaches the role of the Austro-German diva with a candour and intimacy which allows the actress to live once more on the screen, but as an ordinary woman, pacing her bedroom in a dressing gown, drinking champagne and lighting one cigarette after the other, depressed, neurotic, frustrated with her career, finding it difficult to get beyond the shadow of her most famous role, Princess ‘Sissy’.
3 Days of Quiberon is a moving study of an exploited actress and abused woman – abused by the photographer, always observing her through his camera, the ambitious journalist, who wants more secrets from her, even her childhood friend, who has a career only thanks to her. Schneider was denounced by the press as a woman of “light behaviours” – too many lovers, and a bad mother to her son – but in the end we understand her as a woman who refused to obey the rules of a patriarchal society. In a way, this movie is a feminist rebuke, which implicates the audience as well as the industry.
Rita di Santo is a film critic and reviewer.