"Hotel des Ameriques/Hotel of the Americas" (1981) marked the first time Techine let his actors improvise, a practice he has continued ever since, adjusting his scripts to accommodate the new material. It was also his first time directing Catherine Deneuve, and three films later, having played unglamorous, matronly roles to stretch her repertoire, she was still enthusiastic about working with him: "There are some directors who are more feminine than others, like Techine, like Truffaut. They are an exceptional gift to actresses." Juliette Binoche found that out as the star of "Rendez-Vous" (1985), a stylishly engrossing tale of obsessive sexuality which earned him the Cannes Festival Best Direction Award. Binoche was outstanding in her first lead role as an innocent provincial girl who arrives in Paris to pursue a career in the theater. Given the choice of the apparently virginal Wadeck Stanczak and his seedy roommate Lambert Wilson (playing an actor in a sex show), she opts to indulge her hedonistic impulses with the fascinating, repelling Wilson, his eventual demise profoundly maturing the once carefree girl.Techine's poignant coming-of-age saga "Les Roseaux sauvages/Wild Reeds" (1994) earned him Cesars for his direction and screenplay and took honors as Best Picture. His first film released in the USA (in 1995) and his most autobiographical picture to date (the sensitive Francois discovering he is gay clearly an alter ego for the helmer) centered on the inner turmoil of a trio of youngsters at a provincial boarding school in 1962 and evoked the effect the Algerian War had on rural France. As Francois' platonic best friend Maite, Elodie Bouchez was nothing short of a revelation, garnering a Cesar as Most Promising Newcomer--Female. For his next two features released in the USA, Techine guided Deneuve to her most self-revelatory performances in years. "Ma Saison preferee/My Favorite Season" (1993, released in USA in April 1996) cast her and Daniel Auteuil as estranged siblings forced together by the decline of their ailing mother, while "Les Voleurs/Thieves" (1996), using the crime genre as a starting point, paired them in a "Rashomon"-style exploration of family and amorous ties. Techine's "Alice and Martin" (1998), a haunting love story between two emotionally damaged outsiders, reteamed him with Binoche, whose subtly nuanced performance as she moved from insecurity to almost obsessive purpose lent a dignity to her character that was the abiding memory of the film.
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