Augustus Young       light verse, poetry and prose
a webzine of new and unpublished work


  Marie’s Murder (Item from The Trivia Chronicle 2003)

Bertrand Cantat, lead singer of Noir Désir (Dark Desire), and soi-disant poète of Pop, apologises for killing Marie, the daughter of Jean-Louis Trintignant, in a lover’s tiff. I take it personally, having been Trintignant for several years in the sixties.

Jean-Louis always looked embarrassed. Not least in And God Created Woman, 1956, when Roger Vadim transformed Camille Javel (toilet cleaner) into Brigitte Bardot (Hinny). In Il Sorpasso), he managed to look sorry for those that loved him. His priggish performance in Ma Nuit Chez Maud (1970) was to be my role model. As a Catholic boy who scrupled with sin, I avoided commitment.

His bashful mien may have had something to do with his name, the least memorable and pronounceable in any language I know (or don’t know).  ‘Easy’, says Welsh. ‘Trant-eeng-yong.’ (But you have to allow for a butt stuck to Yann’s desiccated lower lip).

Trintignant was the second-best assassin in movie history (The Conformist, 1970). The best was Alain Delon in Le Samourai (1967) directed by Melville, a genius compared to the flashy Bertolucci who aged badly (like snow that stays too long on the ground, precocious film-makers tend to end up producing slush). 

 In Court Bertrand Cantat thinks he is performing in a movie of his own making, with the Trintignants as his supporting players. He is going for the minimal sentence, pleading regret, and is about as convincingly as Fats Waller’s mugging, or Edith Piaf’s lack of it. He is closer to Ronald Reagan as a domestic rat in The Killers (1954). As though accepting an Oscar, he lists the thanks in    advance for awarding him with forgiveness, with special mention for Marie’s mother (who’s published a book wishing him canned for cat food). Only J.L. Trintignant’s name is omitted. Why tempt the second-best assassin in movie history?

The prosecution speaks of Marie Trintignant’s ‘bright little life’ extinguished by four blows to the head. ‘Four’ is a significant number in French culture. Meursault in Camus’s Étranger was found guilty less for killing an Arab than for wasting four more bullets on a corpse. The word four in French means oven as in a crematorium or a concentration camp (chut Vichy).

In his final address Cantat is trying to talk himself out of the hole he dug Marie Trintignant into. He is a sly lyricist, affectionately planting poisonous seeds in the jury’s mind. Marie was a petit mignon mercilessly teasing a man too sensitive for his own good. When her taunting reached fever pitch, his mind, slowed down with the weight of the world (the environment, the plight of being a Pop idol), lost control of his body. His defense council in the sum-up compared their difference in height and weight and produced questionable evidence that Maria had ‘a delicate skull’.

Cantat got seven years. Three off for admitting (wo)man-slaughter. In sum, four (not again!). When transferred to an open prison for good behavior, his fans gathered outside clamoring for a wave (cou-cou). He will be back.

 Maybe I, as Trintignant, should send Delon a gun. He is still around, unloved by the gods for going on and on while conspicuously going off.

Maybe he has one last performance as an assassin under his slouch hat.

Chabrol, who made Marie live forever as the unhappy housewife in Betty (1992), at her funeral said, ‘She gave herself totally.  Too much. I used to say to her ‘’Marie, come back to earth’’.’