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Marine Vacth

Marine VacthMarine Vacth, born the 9th of April, 1991 in the 12th arrondissement of Paris is a French actress and model known for Young & Beautiful released in 2013, The Man with the Golden Brain from 2012 and Families released in 2015.

Vacth began her modeling career at the age of fifteen and started acting at twenty. She played Tessa in Cédric Klapisch's film My Piece of the Pie. In 2011, she succeeded Kate Moss as the face for Yves Saint Laurent perfumes and the Chloé brand.

She lives in Paris with her boyfriend, photographer Paul Schmidt, and their son Henri, born in the spring of 2014. She is signed with Traffic Models.

The English title of the film that launched Marine Vacth as a screen star is Young & Beautiful, which is an apt description of the Paris-born model turned actor.

But the original French Jeune & Jolie, a now-defunct young women's magazine, simply means young and pretty. So writer-director François Ozon could have chosen someone who is merely good looking to play Isabelle - a teenager who baffles her parents by turning to upmarket prostitution; that would have given the character a naturalistic, everyday familiarity.

But there is nothing girl-next-door about Vacth. She is beautiful in a way that is almost ultra-real in its sophisticated perfection – the perfectly symmetrical features, deep grey eyes and pouty lips.

Together with long blonde hair, these looks have you convinced she just stepped out of an exquisite classic painting.

Marine VacthAt 22, Vacth is five years older than her character in the film, her cool unreadability in front of the camera creating an unsettling, often disconcerting discrepancy with Isabelle's teenage gaucheness.

She cannot stand social media and the electronic world in general: "The speed oppresses me. I claim the right not to answer emails immediately."

Vacth admits she didn't understand Isabelle when she made the film and still doesn't. "I didn't really try and understand psychologically who she was," she says.

"I wasn't interested in knowing exactly. And anyway I couldn't, because François didn't tell me anything about her psychology."

"What I liked was there's nothing that fundamentally makes her act as she does. It's something that maybe happens to a lot of adolescents – coming up against a rather violent experience, which you don't really analyse while it's happening."

Vacth – the name, pronounced "Vakt", comes from the Lorraine region of France – is friendly but reserved.

Before moving from the world of modelling into film, Vacth was more used to having cameras pointed at her than tape recorders.

Then Young & Beautiful played in Cannes and she was suddenly thrown into a whirlwind, not just of photo shoots but also of interviews, in which she was asked to give on-the-spot psychoanalytic readings of the film's heroine.

Her take on the whole process going on at Cannes as "a curious exercise".

Marine Vacth"From what I saw of Cannes, there's a sort of excitation that happens for a few days and not just around the film. It can be fun, depending on how you decide to look at it. But three or four days is enough."

Discovered in a Hennes & Mauritz shop at the age of 14, she went on to be photographed by the likes of Mondino, Juergen Teller and Paolo Roversi, and succeeded Kate Moss as the face of YSL's Parisienne perfume.

She made her first film appearance – basically embodying cosmopolitan chic – as the antihero's model girlfriend in Cédric Klapisch's comedy Ma part du gâteau (My Piece of the Pie) in 2011, then appeared in another feature and a short before working with Ozon.

In Young & Beautiful, Vacth is on screen for much of the time with her clothes off, sometimes straddling, in one case fatally, the clients Isabelle meets in hotel rooms.

It seems that Vacth is not entirely convinced by the film's rather shopworn idea of prostitution as a female fantasy.

But for Vacth, the film is more about Isabelle's coming of age than anything else: "She becomes a woman who arouses desire, that's how she enters the adult world. She becomes aware of adults looking at her – both men and women."

She doesn't believe that the film is really about prostitution, but about Isabelle's parents not understanding her: "It's about how, within the family unit, we accept that there's something that eludes us."

Although Young & Beautiful has divided critics, the critics reviews generally agree that Vacth is a striking new talent.

Marine VacthIn interviews, Ozon has talked about being struck by her "opacity".

"I could only make the film if I had an actress who was fascinating to look at. Because the film is quite oblique, because it's not about psychology but behaviour, it had to be an actress that the viewer, and myself, wanted to look at – almost as you'd look at an insect."

"In auditions, he says, all the other actresses played it naturally, but not Vacth - there was a mystery, a strangeness about her. I had the feeling that she was thinking about something else."

At Cannes, the film's depiction of young female sexuality was somewhat overshadowed by another French film about teenage sex, the Palme d'Or-winning lesbian drama, Blue is the Warmest Colour, also notable for its nudity.

That film has caused a storm, with its lead actresses claiming that the sex scenes were an ordeal. But in Young & Beautiful, Vacth seems to have taken Ozon's bedroom scenes as a bit of a lark.

"François likes to joke around on set – he has a very ironic take on the world. He likes to do things in multiple inverted commas."

When talking about her modelling career, which she has now more or less given up, Vacth seems detached, to say the least.

Marine Vacth"It was something I experienced with a lot of distance. It never fascinated me – it left me neither hot or cold, really. I just saw it as a rather peculiar world of its own, which could be rather ridiculous at times."

"Sometimes, there's this whole cavalcade - there's a side to it that can be pretty crass and not really justified."

Modelling was just something that she was able to make the most of. "I decided to take what I could take from it, leave what I didn't like, and not get too caught up in what was finally pointless."

"The best part of it, she says, was that the job allowed her to travel and to be financially independent."

She concedes that sometimes the experience yields something extra. She was particularly happy with a recent shoot for Acne Paper, in which she and photographer Benjamin Alexander Huseby channelled Monica Vitti and early 60's Italian cinema.

"I love being able to tell a story through photos, but you don't often get the chance."

Vacth says her family is nothing like Isabelle's liberal bourgeois clan in the film: "It was more disciplined."

She grew up in Bois-Colombes, on the northern outskirts of Paris. Her mother was an accountant, her father a lorry driver who had his own company and named it Marine Transport.

The enduring passion of Vacth's youth was judo, which she did for seven years until the age of 17, obtaining a brown belt.

"I stopped because my teacher left and I couldn't see myself being taught by anyone else."

Marine Vacth"I grew up in an environment without music, without books, without anything cultural. No room for the dream, I had to be down to earth. I never had the desire to do modeling and film."

Jeune & Jolie – ‘Young & Beautiful’ in English – is the French independent film that picked up a Palme d’Or nomination at this year’s Cannes.

It follows the story of Isabella, a Parisian teenager who decides to become a high-class prostitute for no discernible reason – she is from a loving family, has no need for money and is not shown to be in any way abused or mentally unstable.

On the one hand, it's an enjoyably provocative dissection of middle class values, encapsulated in Isabella's horrified parents and our own incredulity at her actions.

On the other, it feels like a curiously male fantasy of a young women's burgeoning sexuality – particularly when she finds pleasure in the arms of one of her elderly clients.

But the reason the film is likely to grab one's attention up until now is lead actress Marine Vacth, whose naked, dishevelled image gazes inscrutably upwards from the movie's promotional poster.

Not since Audrey Tatou's ridiculously deep brown eyes appeared plastered on tube stations and bus stops to advertise Amelie have so many men stopped in their tracks to consider the merits of attending a French art house movie.

In every way possible, from the film's opening frame to the last shot, Vacth is mesmorizing. She plays Isabella with a self-contained thoughtfulness and just a dash of haughtiness, somehow making her inexplicable actions believable and giving the film a depth it mat not fully deserve.

Marine Vacth“When I read the script, I felt empathy for Isabella, and so I wanted to play that character,” she says.

“But I asked: 'why'? Why is she doing this?' But sometimes, I guess, we do things we don't understand.”

Something Vacth has little interest in understanding is her own career. She has, she says, no ambition beyond "being able to do the things I want to do”".

She says moving from modelling to acting was just "another experience", making it sound like taking a trip for the weekend.

When someone in Vacth' position doesn't feel they have to justify their good fortune by alluding to how much they've always wanted it, and how hard they had to work to get it – even though the latter must be true, can be novel.

Her passage into acting sounds seamless, just like her accession in the world of modeling.

"I didn't think I had anything to prove going from being a model to an actress. I knew some people were waiting to have something negative to say about it. But it didn't feel like this big transition. I didn't want to be an actress any more than I wanted to be model – it just happened."

Vacth isn't exactly lapping up the perks either. What makes her happy, she says, is spending time with her family, being out in nature and reading.

The fame game – with its carousel of glamorous parties and sitting in hotel rooms talking to strangers about yourself – is something she endures rather than relishes, admitting she found all the attention at Cannes "exhausting".

Marine Vacth"Fame is part of it. I've been promoting this film since May. I didn’t realise it would be like this, but I am just doing what I have to do. It's a curious thing."

"People do recognise me sometimes in France, because the movie has received a lot of attention there. But I think people can quickly forget who you are."

Probably a trace of wishful thinking in that idea which is echoed in her view of London, where she's staying for a few days and has been before.

"I like this city. It feels like no one is looking at each other. It feels more open and accepting than Paris, with less tension."

If Jeune & Jolie becomes the hit foreign film of the year, I wonder whether she’ll always be able to say that about the capital.

But for now, she nods with slight relief that our time is up, pulls both feet up and reclines back in her big jumper, already contemplating the view outside the window.

I think of what she told me when I asked for the best piece of career advice she'd ever been given – "keep a lot of things private".

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Marine Vacth Photoshoot





Filmography

Year Title Role Director Notes
2011 My Piece of the Pie Tessa Cédric Klapisch
2012 L'homme à la cervelle d'or Alice Joan Chemla
2012 What the Day Owes the Night Isabelle Rucillio (adult) Alexandre Arcady
2013 Young & Beautiful Isabelle François Ozon Nominated — César Award for Most Promising Actress
Nominated — Lumières Award for Most Promising Actress
2015 Belles familles Louise Jean-Paul Rappeneau

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Bonesetters Waiting Room

In the Bonesetter's Waiting Room:
Travels Through Indian Medicine

BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week India defies definition, and the story of medicine in India is similarly rich and complex: shaped by unique challenges and opportunities, uniting cutting-edge technological developments with ancient cultural traditions, fuelled by political changes which transformed the lives of millions and moulded by the energy of forceful individuals. Here, Aarathi Prasad investigates how Indian medicine came to be the way it is. Her travels will take her to bonesetter clinics in Jaipur and Hyderabad and the waiting-rooms of Bollywood's best plastic surgeons, and introduce her to traditional healers as well as the world-beating heart surgeon who is revolutionising treatment of the poor around the globe.

Like a Virgin

LIKE A VIRGIN
Exploring the Frontiers of Conception

Sexual evolution is a slippery business. Like all mammals, we humans seem to have been left no choice in the matter: even though it is costly, inefficient and dangerous, if we want to reproduce we simply have to have sex. Yet most human cultures tell the tale of a maiden who gives birth untouched by a man; and in the wild there are plenty of creatures – such as turkeys, komodo dragons, sharks and the ‘Jesus Christ’ lizard (which walks on water, too) – that take various approaches to reproducing without sex.

In LIKE A VIRGIN, the biology writer Aarathi Prasad discusses how reproduction without sex is achieved in animals and explores why evolution hasn’t made it an option for humans – yet. In doing so, she provides a quirky, entertaining and perceptive overview of the mysteries of evolutionary biology, sex and reproduction – past, present and future.

It’s a remarkable story that ranges across Greek mythology, natural history, agriculture, conservation and medicine; takes in some of the most exciting areas of developmental genetics and molecular biology that other popular science books largely ignore; and is packed full of a cast of amazing characters, be they obscure animals or eccentric scientists such as the respected geneticist Dr Helen Spurway who in the UK in the 1950s unwittingly sparked a nationwide search for a virgin mother.

There is now a plethora of strategies being developed in reproductive medicine that could ultimately keep our species going in a world of embellished sex: the creation of artificial eggs and sperm from bone marrow, labs-on-chips on which eggs are fertilized, silicone wombs and artificial wombs (where fetuses can spend their full nine months), and even research to prepare us for reproduction in space. What’s more, we are finally beginning to understand what genetic modifications are needed to allow for the creation of women who could have babies without having sex. Now that we have the competent hand of science in our lives, will girls still need men?

Publisher: Oneworld (UK/US)
Pub Date: 16 August 2012
Status: Draft manuscript
Length: 288 pages


All rights available excluding:
UK & Commonwealth, US, Arabic (Arab Scientific), Japan (East Press)

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