Petite and extremely pretty, Anicée Alvina was a good dramatic actress, but unfortunately after a promising start the uninhibited Anicée was too often typecast in sexual roles that often required her to disrobe more than to show her genuine talent.
Born Anicée Shahmanesh, in France, on January 28th 1953, Anicée was of French-Iranian parents and grew into a delicate beauty, with her long dark hair and brown eyes. Using the screen name Anicée Alvina and after playing a pregnant teen in a 1970 Annie Giradot comedy, 18 year old Anicée was introduced in Lewis Gilbert’s 1971 British drama ‘Friends’, playing a 14 year old who meets an English boy in Paris. The two fall in love, have a baby and eventually are tracked down by detectives, after which the baby is taken away and the couple are promptly separated. The critics hated it but the public were swept away by it, due in part to the popular Elton John soundtrack. Anicée soon gained cult status both home and abroad and, like her 1970’s contemporaries Olivia Hussey and Tracy Hyde, she was idolised in Japan.
After a few television movies Anicée was to become a sex icon through her roles in a couple of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s nudity-filled art films which, although they applied a non-linear structure, were often beautiful to watch. In ‘Successive Slidings of Pleasure’ (’74) Anicée played Alice, an unstable prostitute who’s accused of her room-mates murder. While imprisoned she uses her beauty to seduce and manipulate both her lawyer and the judge. With scenes of S&M, repressed nuns and discarded mannequins, we’re not sure what’s real and what’s not. It’s a bizarre head-trip but you cannot take your eyes off Anicée. After a pointless sequel to ‘Friends’ (1974’s ‘Paul and Michelle’) Anicée co-starred with Jean Rochefort in ‘Isabelle and Lust’ (’75), where she played another unbalanced girl, this time in search of happiness after suffering the trauma of rape and her father’s suicide.
Also that year, Anicée re-teamed with Alain Robbe-Grillet for ‘Playing with Fire’ where she played a banker’s daughter who’s kidnapped, or was she?. Starring such talents as Jean-Louis Trintignant and Philippe Noiret, along with Sylvia Kristel and Agostina Belli, it was a bit more coherent than ‘Slidings’, but not much! A pretty good movie came in 1977 with ‘Forbidden Room’ starring Vittorio Gassman and Catherine Deneuve. It concerned a young man who moves into his uncle’s apartment where he discovers a mysterious room. Anicée’s role was small but crucial, and it remains a pretty good mystery. After playing Robert Stack’s love interest in Gérard Blain’s ‘Second Wind’ (’78), Anicée starred in a comical six part mini-series called ‘Les Quatre Cents Coups Virginia’ (’79), as a new bride in Paris experiencing various misadventures. After playing the title role in the 1983 television movie ‘Diane Lanster’, Anicée retired from the screen, got married and went on to have four children.
In 1995 Anicée came out of retirement to make Gérard Blain’s tragic French drama ‘Until the End of the Night’, about an aging ex-con trying to go straight while romancing a young woman. A small role in Blain’s 2000 drama ‘So Be It’ would be her penultimate. After being diagnosed with lung cancer Anicée appeared in the 2006 short film ‘Charell’, before sadly succumbing to the disease later that year on November 10th. She was only 53.
A gifted singer as well as a talented actress, it’s a shame Anicée Alvina didn’t get too many chances to shine. She did at least leave behind some intelligent and sensuous performances in a few cult offerings, and remains a somewhat mysterious beauty who (excuse a shallow moment) I never tire of watching.
Favourite Movie: ‘Successive Slidings of Pleasure’
Favourite Performance: ‘Successive Slidings of Pleasure’