Wrote for, and performed with, the Parisian theater group "Splendid" before initiating her popular screen career in Patrice Leconte's "Les Petits Calins" (1978). Balasko directed her first features, "All Mixed Up," in 1985 and is best known to international audiences as the emotionally satisfying, but physically unattractive, mistress of Gerard Depardieu in Bertrand Blier's "Too Beautiful For You" (1989). Balasko tends to play comic roles which punctures male machismo, and which have wreaked havoc on the popular images of French sexuality. Declining to describe herself as a feminist -- or be labeled as anything else in particular, except an artist -- Balasko's scripts and directorial turns have been breaking ground in France, where her "French Twist," the 1995 story of a butch lesbian (played by Balasko), who becomes involved with a bourgeois couple whose marriage is shaky and whose self-images are shaky as well, was the second-highest grossing domestic film of the year.
A product of the cafe-theatre scene of Paris in the early 70s, Balasko made her film debut in 1976 playing bit parts in "Une Fille unique" and in Roman's Polanski's "The Tenant." Working in theatre with other rising comic actors such as Michel Blanc and Thierry Lhermitte, Balasko made her real screen acting debut in "Les Petit Calins" and then was with her Les Splendid crew in Patrice Leconte's popular "Les Bronzes" and its sequel "Les Bronzes font du ski" (1979), establishing her as a generational symbol. It was in "Clara et les chics types" (1981), that Balasko began to establish herself as a so-called "anti-sex symbol," and also "Les Hommes preferent les grosses/Men Prefer Fat Girls" (1981), which she co-wrote. Following the lead of Michel Blanc, a cabaret theatre star turned movie star, turned director, Balasko made her directorial debut in 1985 with "Sac de Noeuds," a dark comedy about three social misfits trying to regenerate their failed lives. She followed this by directing herself in "Les Keufs" (1987), in which Balasko played a police inspector trying to crack a prostitution ring. "Les Keufs" also probed racism French-style. "Trop belle pour toi!" which was directed by Bertrand Blier, followed in 1989. She also was applauded for her work in "Tour le monde n'a pas eu la chance d'avoir des parents communistes" (1994), movingly playing a working-class mother and communist activist in Paris of the 1950s.
Balasko had not abandoned the theatre. In the early 90s, she starred on stage in "Solo," a French translation of the London and Broadway hit, "Shirley Valentine," the wife and mother who dreams of a romantic vacation. Balasko insisted on a poster for the show featuring herself -- in all her real flesh -- in a bathing suit. Rather than stopping traffic, the posters won Balasko the hearts of the women of Paris. They cheered her, saying Balasko, who might be termed overweight but hardly obese, had liberated them from images of svelte models with pumped-up bosoms.
Director (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Joined theater troupe, "Splendid"; other members included Michel Blanc, Thierry Lhermitte and Dominique Lavanant
Played bit parts in "Une fille unique" and Roman Polanski's "The Tenant"
Made screenwriting debut (dialogue), "Pauline et l'ordinateur"
Made feature acting debut, "Les Petits Calins"
Made feature directing debut (also actress; writer), "Sac de noeuds/All Mixed Up"
Played Gerard Depardieu's mistress in "Trop belle pour toi"
Directed French box office smash, "French Twist"; also starred
Co-starred in "The Frenchman's Son", written and directed by Gerard Lauzier
Portrayed Edina in "Absolument Fabuleux", a French feature based on the popular British comedy series "Absolutely Fabulous"