Last Monday, French media were reporting that Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy were in a Moroccan palace as guests of the King. But Carla was in Paris, coyly sitting on the lap of a handsome guy in red socks. This was at the shooting of a scene for her sister Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s new film. She was playing an extra in an auction scene at Sotheby’s in the rue Faubourg St Honoré: the latter doubling as Sotheby’s London in which the scene is scripted.
I was there, also playing an extra and as the day’s work went on all afternoon and into the evening had ample time to study Carla. Wearing a faded print dress, and bare legged in open toed sandals (despite the thrashing rain outside) she posed for cosy photos with Mr Red Socks and later (after Red Socks had left) with a tall silver haired actor. Her technique was to cuddle her cheek up against theirs, pull her hair around on one side and pout into the camera.
The film tells of a rich Italian family in hard times, auctioning their antiques and the scene involves a dramatic interruption when the character played by Valeria herself (who was also directing) tries to withdraw a painting seconds after the auctioneer’s gavel has fallen.
Valeria's and Carla’s mother was in the film. Madame Bruni Tedeschi was seated next to Valeria with whom she clearly has a good relationship. But Carla sat far away from them and never once spoke to either of them. Nor was she ever on camera.
Valeria, a successful and award winning film-maker may be telling her family’s own story based on the tragedy of her brother’s death from HIV complications. Clearly stressed at the double role of directing the scene in which elegantly dressed English speakers played the audience, Valeria then had to deal with a violent outburst from a big name star who was playing one of the bidders for the painting.
Omar Sharif, handsome and distinguished in grey pinstripes suddenly began yelling at Valeria. He had already done some cutaway shots with the only camera and was now sitting some distance behind Valeria as she made repeated takes of her scripted outburst to the auctioneer (played by a handsome real life auctioneer). Sharif appears to have nodded off to sleep and someone had awakened him. He now yelled out that Valeria had had him sitting around doing nothing for five hours. When she tried to reply he yelled at her repeatedly to shut up and sit down.
As for Carla, she remained off to one side, head down for the most part. No doubt she was anxious lest her presence in Paris be too noticeable since she was supposed to be in Morocco with her husband and baby daughter. But about one hundred and fifty people can hardly have failed to notice her presence, or that of her double, at the Sotheby’s shoot.