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The Music and Movies of Vanessa Paradis

The Music and Movies of Vanessa Paradis
DARREN HARRISON
Vanessa Paradis fan for past 30 years

Mention the name of Vanessa Paradis in the U.S. and you are likely to be faced with a puzzled expression or blank stare.

Mention her name in the U.K. or Canada and the most common response is “oh, that one-hit wonder” or “I don’t listen to foreign musicians” or, in more recent years “Wasn’t she married to Johnny Depp?” (She never was, though she had children with and lived for many years with the actor).

However, if you mention her name in France  they would likely want to know if you were referring to Vanessa Paradis the movie actress, Vanessa Paradis the widely popular singer and musician, or Vanessa Paradis the model.

Indeed Vanessa Paradis has had these varied career paths, breaking into the popular consciousness with her phenomenally successful “Joe Le Taxi” in 1987 at the age of 14 before branching out in movies three years later with a leading role as a troubled teen in “Noce Blanche” (for which she won the 1990 César Award for Most Promising Actress). Since 1991, Paradis has been a spokesmodel for Chanel.

Vanessa Paradis on the British “The Roxy” TV show in 1988. It was quite by chance catching this show which, as a 16-year old British lad first brought the 15-year old French singer to my attention

The song “Joe Le Taxi” catapulted her to the Top 10 music charts in France (where it sat atop the singles chart for 11 weeks), and also number one positions in Belgium, Isreal and Canada. The following year the single peaked at number three in the United Kingdom and also broke into the Top 5 in Ireland and Norway.

I first encountered Vanessa Paradis due entirely by chance at the age of 16 in 1988. In the late 1980s there was a music show called “The Roxy” on British television (ITV’s answer to the BBC’s “Top of the Pops”). The show was broadcast from my local city of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and so every so often I would tune in to see who might be appearing.

One night Vanessa Paradis appeared on the show (her first appearance on British television) and I was immediately entranced. I remember hurriedly hitting the record button on my VCR to catch the last few moments of this entrancing beauty.

Information was scarce on her at that time in my native U.K. but I had a female penpal in France at the time and in my next letter I gushed about Vanessa. I was rewarded unexpectedly when my penpal responded with a packet full of newspaper and magazine clippings of the singer – the first real indication of her status in her native country.

For many British people that is where the story of Vanessa Paradis ended, hence the “one-hit wonder” references, but I was hooked (she would have a further UK hit in 1992 when “Be My Baby” briefly reached number 6) . I immediately joined her fan club and received a signed picture as the sole fan memorabilia, purchased her second album and eagerly hoped for a chance to see “Noce Blanche”.

Unfortunately it would be almost 15 years before I would have the chance to see her debut movie when it debuted on DVD in the UK (which I promptly imported) and, unaware of the proclivities of French cinema, was exceedingly surprised to see a topless 17-year old Paradis in the movie. In the meantime I had continued to follow her music career and imported a number of her movies (primarily from the UK’s division of Amazon and searches on ebay). My personal favorite until I saw “Noce Blanche” was Une Chance Sur Deux” alongside legends of French cinema Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo, but I also enjoyed “Un Amour de Sorcière” with Jeanne Moreau and Jean Reno.

““I’d rather sing a good lyric written by someone else than one of my own
that is terrible.”
VANESSA PARADIS

NOCE BLANCHE was Vanessa’s movie debut.

The music and movies continued until she entered semi-retirement in 1998 to raise a family with the American actor Johnny Depp. It would be 12 years before Vanessa would experience somewhat of a resurgence in her career, appearing in the very enjoyable 2010 movie “Heartbreaker” and a couple of modestly successful 2011 movies “A Monster in Paris” and “Café de Flore”.

So, to my friends and the family in the UK I have one response – not such a one-hit wonder, Paradis has been taking the French speaking world by storm for over 30 years. I’m still very much a fan, or should I say “Admirateur” since my French penpal would tell me there was no French word for fan.

THE MOVIES OF VANESSA PARADIS

TitleYearCharacter
Noce Blanche1989Mathilde Tessier
Élisa 1995Marie Desmoulin
Un Amour de Sorcière 1997Morgane
Une Chance sur Deux1998Alice Tomaso
Girl on the Bridge, The1999Adèle
Atomik Circus - Le retour de James Bataille2004Concia
Mon Ange2004Colette
La Clef2007Cécile
L'arnacoeur (Heartbreaker)2010Juliette
Café de Flore 2011Jacqueline
Dubaï Flamingo2012Jackie
Je me Suis Fait Tout Petit2012Emmanuelle
Cornouaille2012Odile
Fading Gigolo2013Avigal
Sous les Jupes des Filles2014Rose
Yoga Hosers2016Ms. Maurice
Frost2017Marianne
Chien2017Hélène
Maryline2017Jeanne Desmarais
Big Bang2018Gabrielle
Un Couteau dans le Coeur 2018Anne

About The Author

Darren

Born on the English-Scottish border I emigrated to the US after graduating college in 1995 and became a U.S. citizen in 2007. I have served in the U.S. military and my past positions include as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Washington Post Company, a technical writer working on technical documentation for both a construction company and a large government contractor, a graphic designer creating graphics in support of government contract proposals, and as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy. which included being assigned as the official writer for the Navy and DoD on the assumption ceremony of a new Secretary of the Navy. I am currently a Web Services Writer for a large government contractor in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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