Cécile de France brings life to “Hereafter”

Lesbian fans of French film already know Cécile de France.

She won a César award, the French version of an Oscar, for her role in L’Auberge Espagnole — in which she played lesbian Isabelle. She returned for the 2005 sequel, Les Poupées Russes, to reprise the role and, despite the movie’s somewhat lukewarm reception, turned in a strong and sexy performance that earned another César. And yes, the role portrayed Isabelle as a fully realized — and fully lesbian — character, complete with a love life.

De France also played a lesbian in Haute Tension, a tribute to American slasher movies. (The AfterEllen.com review contains major spoilers.) That film perpetuated the violent lesbian cliché, to be sure, but we can’t deny that de France looks hot in badass mode.

Starting Friday, U.S. audiences will get a chance to see why de France has worked steadily in Europe for over a decade. De France stars with Matt Damon in Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Hereafter.

If you’ve watched any TV lately, you’ve seen the trailer for Hereafter – it’s everywhere. The story centers on three people whose experiences with death have them looking for answers about the afterlife. De France plays Marie LeLay, a journalist who is overtaken by a tsunami and has a near-death experience, complete with white light.

The movie charts Marie’s journey from cynic to open-minded believer. She told io9:

She is not connected from what is happening in her heart, and she is missing out on daily simple pleasures, and this experience in the beginning messes up her life, and she is overwhelmed by this experience and it’s very painful, because when she tries to talk about her experience with someone else she loses her credibility as a woman at work… It is very difficult to find the words to describe the sensations she experiences during her near-death experience… It’s very hard to find normal language to talk about that, because it’s over normal language, so she’s saying, “OK, I’m crazy.”


Marie seeks out other people who can give her insight into what’s happening. Here’s a clip:


Once Marie realizes she isn’t crazy, she becomes quite outspoken about what happened to her and determined to tell the world that a lot of very sane people have experiences that point to the existence of an afterlife.

Advance reviews of Hereafter are positive — and it looks like my kind of movie. Getting to know Cécile de France just makes it that much better.

Are you a fan of de France? Will you be in the audience for Hereafter?