“Barbara” de Mathieu Amalric – Our review

“Barbara” a picture within a picture

The biopic about the French singer Barbara directed, and also starred by, Mathieu Amalric can seem somewhat confusing with its mixture of fiction and reality-based images, obtained from documentaries from the time. That said, one begins to become accustomed to these colliding pictures that at first glance appear fake but later on pleasantly surprise you by working out quite well with the plot. It is later on that things get complicated.

In the film about the singer, known for her talent and demanding personality, Almalric goes from one subject to the next, adding a mise en abyme developed by filming the shooting of a movie based on the life of Barbara. We see the director playing a filmmaker engrossed with admiration, devotion, and love for the singer while directing Jeanne Balibar who has the challenge to portray, sing and play the piano like Barbara.

Jeanne Balibar naturally imposes herself in the role of an actress that is trying to personify the singer (hope you understood that). In this film, you sometimes might have to take some time to figure out who is who in this image overlap. But the movie created with some impressionist touches, I would say, creates a tender and touching portrait of the tragic singer.

“Barbara” received the Jean Vigo 2017 award, a prize that rewards the originality in cinema.


Cast & Crew:

  • Director: Mathieu Amalric
  • Cast: Jeanne Balibar, Mathieu Amalric
  • Production: Patrick Godeau
  • Screenplay: Mathieu Amalric and Philippe Di Folco

Related articles:

  • The Guardian: “Jeanne Balibar is cast in the double role of the celebrated singer and an actor playing her in a haunting performance that harks back to Amalric’s burlesque study On Tour”… Full article

  • France Inter: “Mathieu Amalric pose un certain regard sur la chanteuse dont on va commémorer bientôt les 20 ans de la disparition.”… Article complet


  • Fotograma: “Apenas 24 horas después de haber visto a Mathieu Amalric interpretando a un director de cine en ‘Les fantômes d’Ismaël’, el actor repite papel de realizador en su propia película, un antibiopic de la genial Barbara a la que da vida su ex, la no menos genial Jeanne Balibar”… Full article


  • Kino: Biografien zu verfilmen ist so eine Sache: Welche Episoden aus einem Leben schließt man ein? Was spart man aus? Wen besetzt man? Wie nah muss der Film am Leben der Person bleiben?…Vollständiger Artikel