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Trintignant dies after head trauma

French actress succumbs despite two brain surgeries

PARIS — Whisky-voiced French thesp Marie Trintignant died of a cerebral edema on Friday at a clinic in the Paris suburb of Neuilly. She was 41.

Trintignant had been in a coma since July 27 after being struck by her boyfriend — pop star Bertrand Cantat of the French group Noir Desir — in their hotel room in Vilnius, Lithuania. She was there starring as Colette in an eponymous TV film about the author, helmed by her mother Nadine Trintignant.

Taken unconscious to a Vilnius hospital several hours after hitting her head, Trintignant underwent brain surgery. A second last-ditch operation by a neurosurgeon flown in by the French government failed to improve her condition.

Brain dead and sustained on a respirator, the actress was flown back to France Thursday evening at the request of her parents, Nadine Trintignant and vet thesp Jean-Louis Trintignant (“A Man and a Woman.”).

The Paris prosecutor’s office released autopsy results showing that Trintignant died as the result of multiple blows to the head. Cantat has admitted the two had a violent argument that led to her fatal injuries.

Cantat, 39, with whom Trintignant had been involved for less than a year, is in police custody in Vilnius and Trintignant’s family has filed charges for assault and “failure to assist a person in danger.”Noir Desir, a fixture of French popular music since 1987, has cancelled its gigs and the group’s future is uncertain.

Trintignant first appeared on film at age 4 in her mother’s feature “Mon Amour, Mon Amour,” and went on to act in more than 40 movies and over a dozen TV projects. Her distinctive husky voice lent itself to characters ranging from fragile to tough and serious to comic.

Her most noteworthy films include Alain Corneau’s “Serie Noire” (1978) and two Claude Chabrol features, “Story of Women” (1988) and “Betty” (1992), a claustrophobic two-hander in which she starred as a disillusioned bourgeois alcoholic opposite Stephane Audran.

In 1990’s “Nuit d’ete en ville” (Summer Night in Town) directed by Michel Deville she played almost the entire two-character film in the nude opposite Jean-Hugues Anglade.

Trintignant added distinction to offbeat ensemble comedies such as 1993’s “Les marmottes” (The Groundhogs) directed by Elie Chouraqui for whom she also appeared briefly in the English-language “Harrison’s Flowers” in 2000.

Her affection for off-kilter characters flourished in three black comedies by Pierre Salvadori, 1993’s “Cible emouvante” (Wild Target), “Les Apprentis” (1995), and 1998’s “Comme elle respire” (White Lies). In Yvon Marciano’s period drama “Le Cri de la soie” (Scream of Silk, 1996) Trintignant starred as an illiterate woman driven to clinical ecstasy by the touch of silk.

Trintignant was close to her family both personally and professionally. She convinced her semi-retired father to star in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Red” (1994). In 1999 father and daughter appeared together in a show of staged readings of Guillaume Apollinaire’s poetry.

Trintignant co-wrote with her mother the screenplay to “Colette,” which Nadine Trintignant was directing for web France 2 with her son Vincent Trintignant, as assistant director.

Trintignant’s parents divorced in 1976; following her striking adolescent perf in his “Serie Noire,” the thesp appeared in several more films by her mother’s subsequent mate, helmer Alain Corneau.

Trintignant’s most recent bigscreen role was in the comedy “Janis and John”, by Samuel Benchetrit, the father of her two youngest sons, Leon, 7, and Jules, 5. Pic is due for a fall release.

Cantat’s attack was allegedly prompted by jealousy after Trintignant took a phone call from Benchetrit, her husband since 1997 and the father of her two youngest sons, aged 5 and 7.

Also pending release is “Les Marins Perdus” (Lost Seamen) directed by Claire Devers, in which Audrey Tautou appears.

Tributes to Trintignant have poured in from colleagues and dignitaries including culture minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon and French president Jacques Chirac.

She is survived by her mother, father, brother, sons Leon and Jules, and sons, Roman, 17, whose father is the drummer with the rock band Telephone, and Paul, 15, whose father is thesp Francois Cluzet.