On screen, he never had a sense of party, but will remain the most endearing ringer of French cinema: actor, screenwriter and playwright Jean-Pierre Bacri died of cancer Monday at the age of 69.
A figure of theatre and cinema, the actor “died early in the afternoon,” his agent, Anne Alvares-Correa told AFP.
“An immense sadness, a huge actor! Pick up,” said actress Alexandra Lamy on Twitter, borrowing from the favorite vocabulary of Bacri‘s characters on the screen.
Because he was the master of the raging and disillusioned anti-heroes, but deeply human: from the absurd humor of “Didier”, in the shoes of a football coach who must keep a dog man, to chiseled comedies with his accomplice Agnès Jaoui, to the hell of organizing a wedding in the “Sense of the feast”, by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakakier Ache.
“Our sadness is immense, what a chance Jean-Pierre to have known you,” testified the duo of directors on social networks, whose film will be rebroadcast on Sunday on TF1.
President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to him on Twitter Monday night: “He had the sense of celebration and the taste of others. Jean-Pierre Bacri, the most tender of our rowers has gone away. Like an image, his laconic and sensitive humanity will continue to populate our lives.”
Bacri was also a screenwriter, and had written several plays and films with Agnès Jaoui. They owe to their duo bitter masterpieces such as “Le goût des autres” (2000) or “Un air de famille” (first a play in 1994, then brought to the screen in 1996, with an identical cast).
Behind his funny and depressive characters, Bacri had “a taste for life… The meaning of life… Extreme dignity, at the end of the road,” wrote Cannes festival president Pierre Lescure on social networks.
Jean-Pierre Bacri “was not despising, but he was exasperated by human stupidity. And not having his tongue in his pocket, he showed it,” testified his predecessor Gilles Jacob, recalling this “categorical and hesitant voice, sharp and stuttering, caressing and singing.”
Whether they met him or not on the sets, many personalities of the cinema paid tribute to him: from Nathalie Baye (“The awesome, wonderful Jean-Pierre Bacri left us… tremendous grief…”) to Gilles Lellouche (“Immense immense immense sadness”) through Michèle Laroque (“He will be forever in my heart. I have trouble imagining cinema without it”).
Christian Clavier, who had shot “My Best Friends” (1989) with him, remembers a “man of great culture and intelligence.”
For most spectators, Bacri will remain for bespoke roles, such as that of the coffee boss, in sleeveless wool vest in “A Family Air”.
And cult replicas: “This is the majority! Which one first? The one who thought the Earth was flat? The one who wants to restore the death penalty? … The one who puts a feather in her ass because it’s fashion? Which exactly?” , his character, Georges, was angry in “Cuisine et dependances” (1991 for the play, 1993 for the film).
His depressive character was even exported outside France: “The sense of the party” attracted two million spectators abroad, in addition to the three million in France.
He had long won the recognition of his peers: the Caesar Academy, which awarded him a total of five statuettes, greeted an “unforgettable and incomparable artist; a generous author, a sensitive actor”.
The one who knew him better than everyone is probably his accomplice Agnès Jaoui, who was his companion for a long time. This weekend again, she confided in an interview with the daily Le Monde how much Bacri had counted to her, as soon as they met in 1987.
“Here is someone who expressed what I felt without even being formulated; who had reflections that pierced me, relieved me, testified to common values, a relationship to the good and evil I shared, with a conviction that amazed me because it was so singular!” , she said.
By CCEiT (AFP)