For the record, they are German fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh; American author Paul Auster; her son Barnaby Southcombe; Juergen Teller, a German artist and photographer with whom Rampling posed nude in a fashion layout; American poet Frederick Seidel; Franckie Diago, a production designer working mostly in French film; self-taught American artist Anthony Palliser; French filmmaker Joy Fleury and her daughter Cynthia Fleury, a journalist and academ ic.
Each section also refers to clips from films that are meant to illustrate the chapter titles, but again, the references are not always as obvious as the scene from Liliana Cavani’s controversial 1974 film, “The Night Porter” used to illustrate the section called Taboos.
Wearing little or no makeup throughout the film, Rampling is still beautiful to look at. And her throaty voice makes a compelling narrator of her observations about age, beauty, etc. But in all but a few instances, they are observations rather than intimate recollection. Particularly disappointing is a rather detached conversation with Southcombe, one of her two sons…unless we are to consider the scene they rehearse together as autobiographical. And that would be a subjective assumption out of line with the tone of the documentary.
Actually, we learn very little about Charlotte Rampling’s personal life. As for “The Look”—a smoldering glance compared to one earlier perfected by Lauren Bacall—it makes a better subtitle than it does a theme.
“Charlotte Ramping: The Look” opened in New York City on Nov. 4 and will likely soon appear in an art house near you. Don’t expect it at the Cineplex.