×

The Discreet Charm of Daniele Thompson’s ‘Saint Tropez’

The French filmmaker has made a name for herself with laffers set among the upper-class

An expert at depicting dysfunctional relationships within Paris’ upper-class, Daniele Thompson could be Woody Allen’s French cousin.

(From the pages of the April 9 issue of Variety.)

Thompson is presenting her fifth comedy, “It Happened in Saint Tropez,” April 15 in Los Angeles as the opening night of Colcoa (the City of Lights, City of Angels film festival). She ventured into filmmaking at age 57, after three decades as a screenwriter with credits including “The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob,” written with her father, helmer Gerard Oury.

She also collaborated with directors on the scripts of such French pics as Patrice Chereau’s “Queen Margot,” which won two prizes at Cannes, and earned an Oscar nom for her work on Jean-Charles Tacchella’s “Cousin, Cousine.”

Her most high-concept comedy, “Saint-Tropez” centers on a dysfunctional Jewish family and two estranged brothers who must reunite for a funeral scheduled the same weekend as a wedding.

“I’m sometimes criticized for embellishing reality and preferring to film beautiful places, and I don’t deny it at all,” Thompson said. “While I do like movies that are tougher and socially engaged like the Dardennes brothers’ or Ken Loach’s films, as a director I enjoy making lighter movies that make people dream, laugh and even cry a little.”

Thompson said she lived in New York for 10 years, and has “an immense admiration for comedy masters like Woody Allen, Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch, Sydney Pollack and Mike Nichols, all the way to Judd Apatow.”

Thompson’s pics don’t belong to the breed of French arthouse fare that play at film festivals, but they’re not pure comedy blockbusters either. And yet her films are often the right fit for international distributors looking for a smart Gallic dramedy.

Her four films have traveled in all key territories, including the U.S. Her biggest commercial success so far is “Avenue Montaigne,” starring Cecile de France as an aspiring actress and the late Pollack as an American helmer. The pic was released by ThinkFilm in 2007, and grossed more than $15.5 million in international markets.

Pathe co-produced and distributes “Saint Tropez” in France, and reps the pic in international markets. It has presold the pic to Italy (Made in Italy), CIS (Paradise), Israel (Shani), Portugal (Lusomundo), Brazil (Esfera) and Belgium (Alternative Films), among other territories. Pathe’s international sales topper Muriel Sauzay said U.S. buyers will discover the film at Colcoa.

“America instituted the concept of a universal comedy for the bigscreen, with Sennett, Chaplin and Keaton, and it has always been a respected genre in Hollywood,” explained Francois Truffart, director and programmer of Colcoa. “Since her first collaboration with her father, (Thompson) has become very well known for comedy that has an international audience, and she is able to make people laugh, even with her keen eye for their dramatic scenes.”

While family is a recurrent theme in Thompson’s films, it also plays a big role in her life. Her son, Christopher Thompson, has co-written all of her films, and has starred in three of them. Like his mother and grandfather, Christopher has made the transition into directing, making his helming debut with the 2010 “Bus Palladium.”

Thompson is also teaming with husband-producer Albert Koski on a Broadway-style musical based on the 1980 romance “La Boum.” Thompson, who cowrote the movie with late helmer Claude Pinoteau, is penning the book for the musical; the pic’s original composer, Vladimir Cosma, is onboard to write the music.

More Biz

  • Bert Salke and Jennifer Salke

    Feds Looked Into Amazon Studios Chief Jennifer Salke in College Admissions Scandal

    Federal investigators looked into Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke and her husband, Fox 21 Television Studios president Bert Salke, as they conducted a sprawling probe of cheating in elite college admissions, a source close to the case told Variety. It does not appear, however, that prosecutors will charge the Salkes in the case. The Salkes [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Big Blackout Looms as CBS, AT&T Go Down to Wire on Renewal Talks

    A blackout affecting CBS stations in major markets throughout the country looms as CBS and AT&T executives go down to the wire on negotiations for a retransmission consent deal covering 28 O&O stations. The sides have sparred publicly during the past few days as 11 p.m. PT Friday expiration of the previous contract approached. AT&T [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    ICM Responds to WGA Packaging Lawsuit: Claims are 'Baseless' and 'Absurd'

    ICM Partners has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against four major talent agencies by the Writers Guild of America as part of the larger war between agencies and the guild over packaging fees on TV series and movies. The guild sued ICM, CAA, WME and UTA in California state court in April, [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content