Charlotte Rampling: The Look (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 28, 2012 by  

“Charlotte Rampling: The Look” is a fascinating documentary that fans of the actress will surely enjoy.  It may not be a sensational or provocative documentary that tries to uncover anything deep in Rampling’s past, but for anyone who is curious of why she took on the character roles that she had done in the last 45+ years, will no doubt enjoy this documentary.  This is probably the most up-close look that viewers will ever get to see of this unique and talented actress.  “Charlotte Rampling: The Look” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © PROUNENFILM – TAG/TRAUM – LES FILMS. 2012 Kino Lorber, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Charlotte Rampling: The Look


DURATION: 98 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), 2.0 LPCM Stereo

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: April 10, 2012

Directed by Angelina Maccarone

Written by Angelina Maccarone

Produced by Charlotte Uzu

Co-Producer: Serge Lalou

Cinematography by Bernd Meiners

Edited by Bettina Bohler


Charlotte Rampling

Peter Lindbergh

Paul Auster

Barnaby Southcombe

Juergen Teller

Frederick Seidel

Franckie Diago

Anthony Palliser

Cynthia Fleury

Joy Fleury

A biographical study of legendary actress Charlotte Rampling, told through her own conversations with artist friends and collaborators, including Peter Lindbergh, Paul Auster, and Juergen Teller. Intercut with footage from some of Rampling’s most famous films, this “self-portrait through others” is a revealing look at one of our most iconic screen stars.

Many may have seen the beautiful actress Charlotte Rampling in films such as Woody Allen’s “Startdust Memories” (1980) and Sidney Lumet’s “The Verdict” (1982).  Many know of Charlotte Rampling through her piercing eyes, the eyes that have been known to many, including those who have worked with Rampling as “The Look”.

But while Charlotte Rampling is an actress, a photographer, a painter that will be known for her intelligence and beauty, for those who have followed Rampling’s career and have read her interviews, knowing the roles that she has taken in her career, she embodies the path of the “non-traditional” actress.    An actress who is not an actress for entertainment but an actress to break through her own barriers.   An actress who takes on roles to confront and deal with her own personal issues, may it be her mindset or things that have happened in her life.

But that’s the fascinating part about following Charlotte Rampling’s work, she does things her own way.  Even her acting roles are indicative of a woman who is willing to take on roles that have shocked viewers and critics.  From Luchino Visconti’s 1969 film “The Damned”, the shocking 1974  Liliana Cavani film “The Night Porter” or the taboo, woman and chimpanzee relationship in Nagisa Oshima’s 1986 film “Max mon Amour”.

Suffice to say, many have wanted to know more about this actress and why she had taken roles that many consider as audacious, cool or even weird.  From her career which began in 1969 and continuing to make films in 2012, Charlotte Rampling continues to live life the way she wants, the way she feels and could really care less of what people think.

Rampling has also starred in commercial films such as “Deception”, “Babylon A.D.”, “The Duchess” and”Melancholia” and most recently in the critically acclaimed Australian feature “The Eye of the Storm”.

But while many fans have been captivated by Charlotte Rampling, in 2011, filmmaker Angelina Maccarone wanted to show the real Charlotte Rampling through her documentary “Charlotte Rampling: The Look”, in her words but also through others who know her well, including co-stars from the past.

“The Look” features Charlotte Rampling, now at the age of 65, as she talks with friends and family about various topics such as “Exposure”, “Age”, “Beauty”, “Resonance”, “Taboo”, “Demons”, “Desire”, “Death” and “Love” and through each discussion of these topics, we are greeted with footage from “Stardust Memories”, “The Damned”, “Swimming Pool”, “Under the Sand”, “Georgy Girl”, “The Night Porter”, “The Verdict, “Max Mon Amour” and “Life During Wartime”.

Through the film, we start to learn more about Rampling’s mindset about life and her work.  And you learn that Charlotte had gone through her own personal tragedies when she was younger.  One discussion revolves around the death of her oldest sister Sarah who died while giving birth and how devastated she was to lose her sister.

We learn about Rampling’s view of nudity, which she had to do a lot in the film “The Night Porter” to filming the taboo film “Max Mon Amour” as she played a character who was in love with a chimpanzee.

And also talking about aging and being an actress in her ’60s, to answering questions about her perspective towards sex and if it changes now that she is in her ’60s.

While the film is not a documentary about Charlotte Rampling’s personal life, viewers do get to see Charlotte Rampling today as her passion is photography, her observations towards life but anyone wanting any tidbits of her scandalized marriage to actor Bryan Southcombe or second husband, French composer Jean Michel Jarre, this is not one of those type of films which confronts media gossip or personal problems, as this is a woman who is quite progressive and a woman unafraid to speak her mind.

You will see her in conversation with fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh as the two talk about exposure and how they have literally grown up with each other and have fun taking each other’s pictures.  With novelist Paul Auster, the two discuss aging, especially the difficulties of older women finding work (which was more of a topic for Paul Auster, as Charlotte Rampling is one of the few actresses who continues to be quite active in cinema).

Charlotte Rampling: The Look is a documentary that celebrates Charlotte Rampling’s life and career but also learning more about the actress and her observations of taking part in the films and why.


“Charlotte Rampling: The Look” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1) and as one would expect from a documentary, footage varies as it comes from different sources.  So, video quality tends to vary.  I tend not to be critical towards documentaries, especially one that pulls in footage from the ’60s to the present.  The modern footage does feature much more contrast and does look very good, especially the source of Rampling’s older films.  Sometimes older sources from these films can be in bad shape but overall sources used for this documentary were very good, considering it was coming from a standard definition source.


Also, expected for a documentary, “Charlotte Rampling: The Look” is presented in LPCM 2.0 stereo.  Dialogue is clear, even the older film source used in the documentary.  There are some scenes with music, such as Charlotte singing her song that she performed in the film “The Night Porter”.

There are no subtitles throughout the film, only in films where a foreign language is spoken.


“Charlotte Rampling: The Look” comes with a still gallery and trailers for Kino Lorber films.

As a cinema fan who has watched Charlotte Rampling in a variety of films that have been quite fascinating, bold and very different, she has always been a mysterious actress because when you watch her films in the first 20-years of her career, she was no doubt a sex symbol.

But with that being said, “sex symbol” is probably a word that is not the right word to describe this actress.  Mainly because she is one that never took roles for the sake of being popular, being an entertainer and most importantly, not being a sex symbol.  She was an actress that was confident in her looks, her acting and she took on these roles in order to take on various challenges.

There are many audacious roles that Rampling had taken on and while the most memorable for me is her role on “The Night Porter”, who can forget her role in Nagisa Oshima’s “Max mon amour” as she has this taboo relationship with a chimpanzee.  Needless to say, the pairing of Rampling and Nagisa Oshima was a perfect match as both are individuals who walk the beat of their own drum and know that whichever work they take on, people expect a little controversy or non-traditional approach.    Who can also forget her role in “Georgy Girl” as the mother who just gave birth  to a baby and automatically shows her disgust for it (and through the course of the film seeing her character change towards her child).

But for those who are expecting more discussion of Rampling and her personal life, the most anyone is going to get is the discussion of the heartbreak of losing her sister and that is it.  If anything, “Charlotte Rampling: The Look” is literally a celebration of Rampling’s work and filmmaker Angelina Maccarone getting that rare opportunity to capture this actress onscreen.  There is no dishing out the dirt on filmmakers or co-stars or the problems that she had working on the film.  Where Volker Schlondorff had done in his documentary “Billy Wilder Speaks” (2006), nor does Maccarone try to follow in the footsteps of filmmaker Maximilian Schell with his Marlene Dietrich documentary “Marlene” (1984).

Fortunately, Charlotte Rampling was a willing collaborator, not a recluse nor does she have a diva attitude. If anything, I expected to be fascinated by Rampling because she is an intellectual, her conversations are engaging but most of all, she is a person that learned about what she wants in life through various forms of experimentation.   She has had the best of both words of working commercial and arthouse films, working with independent to legendary filmmakers.  She has been adored by many because of her “look” but while watching this documentary, you realize that she is typically on a different mindset and wavelength than many people.  She appears confident in her way of thinking and frankly, I was just pleased to see the real Charlotte Rampling talk about life and also her approach to cinema and her character roles.

If anything, there is nothing polemic about “Charlotte Rampling: The Look”.  It’s a straightforward documentary and biopic featuring Rampling and friends in conversations about life and career and I was fascinated by it.

While I would have hoped to see much more in terms of special features, I realize that many of the documentaries that I own on Blu-ray and DVD are typically devoid of special features to begin with, but a least you get a still gallery, which is better than nothing.  What I would have loved to see is hear from filmmaker Angelina Maccarone or even see any deleted footage that didn’t make it into the final cut of the film.

Overall, “Charlotte Rampling: The Look” is a fascinating documentary that fans of the actress will surely enjoy.  It may not be a sensational or provocative documentary that tries to uncover anything deep in Rampling’s past, but for anyone who is curious of why she took on the character roles that she had done in the last 45+ years, will no doubt enjoy this documentary.  This is probably the most up-close look that viewers will ever get to see of this unique and talented actress.


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