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Last Updated: Friday, 8 April, 2005, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
France embraces commercial film
Kristin Scott Thomas and Romain Duris
Scott Thomas stars alongside Romain Duris in Arsene Lupin
Actress Kristin Scott Thomas has said that the resurgence in French cinema is down to a new approach amongst film-makers - who are no longer scared of commercial movies.

On the heels of Amelie and The Chorus, Scott Thomas' latest film Arsene Lupin, an unusual mix of costume drama, martial arts and computer-generated imagery, is another box office success story.

She told BBC World Service's The Ticket programme that a few years ago, such a film would have been shunned in France - but Arsene Lupin is typical of a new approach to movies in France.

"I think it's very exciting, because for a long time in France 'commercial' was a dirty word," the Paris-based British actress added.

"Now it's OK to make a lot of money with the films that you're making."

Gentleman thief

Scott Thomas, who has lived in France for 25 years, has appeared in a number of French films, including Petites Coupures and Amour et Confusions.

Arsene Lupin is an adaptation of a 1924 novel by Maurice Leblanc, one of a series about a gentleman thief who is also adept at magic.

Kristin Scott Thomas in Arsene Lupin
We're far more independent really, so we are able to make all sorts of different films
Kristin Scott Thomas
Scott Thomas plays Josephine, comtesse de Cagliostro - an immortal countess and a jewellery thief.

"More countesses - I never get away from them," she joked.

The actress, 44, thoroughly enjoyed the role.

"I never die, never get old. It's fantastic. I have to keep sipping very strange elixir, and I have all sorts of strange things up my sleeve, like knives and poison."

"She's calculating, scheming, wicked, evil," she said.

"There's nothing nice about her, basically - apart from her corset, which is quite wonderful."

Independent film-making

Scott Thomas said French directors have begun making a wide variety of films now that they feel they "don't have to reply to the American market so much".

"We're far more independent really, so we are able to make all sorts of different films - from very small, intimate problems to fantastic, all-singing, all-dancing things like Arsene Lupin.

"I think that stems from the fact that the directors in France are also the writers, so it becomes a very personal commitment."

"They're taking a lot of time, putting a lot of energy into it, so sometimes the commercial side has been forgotten."

"But they're beginning to regain territory on that. They're making big, successful pictures."

New project

She credited much of the transformation to Amelie, which had excited France's domestic audience and "made so many people happy."

The Chorus, too, has been a smash hit not only at the theatres but in the music charts, with the soundtrack becoming a huge seller.

"These films have a feel-good thing about them, and people just come out of the cinema beaming," Scott Thomas explained.

Rowan Atkinson
Rowan Atkinson plays the lead in Keeping Mum
"That's just such a great thing to have."

Scott Thomas has just finished filming her next project, Keeping Mum.

A rural English comedy, it stars Rowan Atkinson as a pastor so intent on writing the perfect sermon he does not notice his wife is having an affair with a golf instructor.

"I try and alternate," she added.


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