Timeless Beauty Catherine Deneuve is “On My Way”
By Skip Sheffield
In the constellation of beautiful movie stars, Catherine Deneuve has been one of the fairest of all for more than half a century.
At age 70 Deneuve is still quite beautiful. In her latest film, “On My Way,” she almost seems to be playing herself.
Bettie (Deneuve) is a former Miss Brittany who missed the Miss France finals because of a car accident. Widowed by a man she never really loved, Bettie has settled in the routine of running her family restaurant. The rather dull routine is spiced up by an ongoing affair with a married man her age. As we meet Bettie she has just learned her lover has jilted her for a 25-year-old chick.
Bettie lives with her crabby, domineering mother (Claude Gensac). Things are going none too well at the restaurant. Bills are piling up and creditors are threatening.
When Bettie’s estranged daughter Muriel (singer Camille) calls with an urgent request that would entail a road trip, Bettie figures what does she have to lose?
The assignment is to take her surly grandson, Muriel’s son Charly (Nemo Schiffman), to his grandfather’s so Muriel can interview for an internship that could turn her life around.
Bettie hasn’t seen Charly in several years, and he is not too keen on travelling with his grandmother. The relationship is rocky at first. At one point Charly tries to run away, but eventually a mutual bond develops, and it is sealed when Bettie decides to attend a reunion event of former Miss France candidates at a lakeside resort.
Director Emmanuelle Bercot was born three years after Deneuve shot to stardom in “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” in 1964, but she is keenly in sync with the prospect of a woman whose life has been built upon her physical appearance and is facing the inevitable aging process.
There is an underlying melancholia to “On My Way,” adapted from a screenplay written expressly for Deneuve by Jerome Tonnerre, but it is never defeatist. It is often funny and yes, sexy. Bettie never gives in to self-pity or forces that would dominate her. Catherine Deneuve is a poster girl for women facing old age without fear or regret.