This documentary is at once a success and a failure. It is a success because of Charlotte Rampling's eternally beautiful face; it is a failure precisely because of Charlotte Rampling's eternally beautiful face. If you're like me, a human who can never get enough of Rampling's worldly eyes, elegant eyebrows, noble nose, and the mystery in her lips, then The Look is a film that has your name written all over it. Because there's no plot, her face has no reason to leave the screen. It's always up there doing something wonderful—entering a boxing ring, talking to a friend (all of her friends are famous), smoking a cigarette, ordering coffee or some pastry in a Manhattan cafe. Along with the face of today (Rampling is 65), there are clips of her face from the beginning (Silvio Narizzano's Georgy Girl), middle (Nagisa Oshima's Max Mon Amour), and late (François Ozon's Swimming Pool) parts of her career.
Though the director, Angelina Maccarone, gives us all the face we could ever want, she also gives us a good helping of what she believes is the complex soul of the star. But the soul of the star is completely located on the surface—the skin, the hair, the cheeks, the chin. There is no depth to this image on the screen, which is why looking for the inner and deeper workings of Rampling's mind (does she fear aging and death? Does she believe in God? What is the meaning of acting? What does it mean to be photographed? What does she mean by resonance? What are her deepest desires?) is much like a confused animal looking behind a mirror. This does not mean that Rampling is a shallow person; in fact, her soul appears to be as complex as any other soul in the world. What it means is simply this: Mental profundity is not what being a film star is about. As Rampling herself put it: "I became a film actress because of my beauty." Varsity Theatre, Dec 9–15.