9 Of The Best Lightweight Jackets For Spring

Keeping cool in the warmer months requires a versatile lightweight jacket. Actor Tahar Rahim slips on nine of this season’s best.

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When an interviewee gets out of his chair before the conversation is over, it’s not usually a good sign. Tahar Rahim is on his feet, loping around the hotel suite several times during the course of our meeting. Happily, this is just how he is. He’s a pacer, a fidget. His anecdotes are accompanied by big grins and intense eye contact, arms spread wide. The moments when he does manage to stay in his seat, he pulls his hair back, or flicks it away from his face, leans back, tucks an ankle under his thighs, untucks it again, leans in again.

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You might recall the French actor’s wall-bouncing ways from when he channelled them to play Malik, the convict taken under the wing of the prison don, in A Prophet, Jacques Audiard’s 2009 crime drama. Malik’s nervous energy was a key element in his journey from junior jailbird to leader of lags. Similarly, Rahim didn’t stand around much in The Eagle, the 2011 Roman legion epic in which, speaking Gaelic, he played a tribal prince. It’s these kinetic qualities that make him absolutely the wrong guy for the part he plays in his latest film, The Past.

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“The director told me that he watched every movie I’ve made,” says Rahim, who looks younger than his 32 years, “and he wanted me to do something totally different. The very first thing he told me was to keep that energy inside: ‘I don’t want you to be like you.’” The director of The Past is Asghar Farhadi, who made 2011’s brilliant Oscar-winning Iranian drama A Separation.

In The Past, Rahim is Samir, a laundrette manager with a wife in a coma and a pregnant girlfriend. The mistress, played by Bérénice Bejo, who has much more to say here than when she starred in The Artist (2011), is going through the final motions of divorce and, on top of all that, Samir’s young son is playing up because of all the above. Don’t let the soap-operatic set-up mislead you: The Past is a thriller without guns, a crime movie without a detective, but no less gripping for that. At the centre of the unfolding layers of revelation and recrimination is Rahim, restrained.

“It’s hard for me to watch the movie again,” he admits, “because it’s hard to recognise myself, and I don’t really accept me playing that character. I see him and say, ‘Do something! Say something!’ This guy was so far away from me. I can’t sit still, I have to say what is in my heart.” Actually, Rahim is tremendous in the role, and the film, a critical and commercial success in France, is already following A Prophet and A Separation as an international hit.

Rahim may not like himself in The Past but the list of things he does like includes: Richard Pryor (“I only discovered him recently, and now I know who gave birth to Eddie Murphy”), Sixties and Seventies Japanese gangster movies, and London, where he lived for a summer 10 years ago, working as, he says, “the dog of the place” in a City bar called Abacus: cue a words-and-actions retelling of the life of a glass collector, and a visual interpretation of the manager, Sharky.

“Ah, Sharky. What a guy. I wonder if he remembers me?” Remember? He probably tells his Tahar Rahim stories all the time.

The Past (Le Passé) is out 28 March. Taken from Esquire's April issue, on newsstands now.

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