Julie Delpy’s New Netflix Comedy Gives Voice to Women ‘On the Verge’

The Tony winner Sarah Jones plays Yasmin, a mother and wife who gave up her career and is desperate now to reclaim something for herself. Alexia Landeau (who co-wrote several episodes and executive produced) plays Ell, a jobless single mother of three children by three different dads.

Despite the characters’ struggles, “On the Verge” is very much a comedy, and Delpy isn’t afraid to crack jokes about serious topics like the stresses endured by working mothers, toxic masculinity or ageism. In one early scene, Yasmin is interviewed by a woman half her age and is told that she is, basically, too old. When Yasmin starts to panic and clutches her chest, the young interviewer asks if she is having a heart attack.

The scene details an experience that will resonate with many women; Delpy gives the audience permission to laugh, even as they’re cringing.

“I’m 46, not 96!” Yasmin shoots back.

It’s a comic, cerebral sensibility has been honed throughout Delpy’s career. Her parents, Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet, were both actors (they played her onscreen parents in Delpy’s 2007 feature, “Two Days in Paris”), and she grew up in France surrounded by artists, theater actors and writers. Her first big onscreen role came when Jean Luc Godard cast her in his 1985 film “Detective,” when she was 14. She went on to work with Agnieszka Holland on the Golden Globe-winning film “Europa Europa” and with Krzysztof Kieslowski on his “Three Colors” trilogy.

She spent much of her childhood backstage at her parents’ experimental theater shows or dancing, making music and writing on her own; later, she studied filmmaking at N.Y.U. It’s that mix of experimentation and structure (Delpy is quick to point out that the show is meticulously scripted) that she brings to “On the Verge.”

“It’s sophistication obliterated by absurdity,” said Giovanni Ribisi, who plays Justine’s endearing yet infuriating boss, speaking about Delpy’s sensibility. “Julie has made a mark with her own style. She’s a craftsman. She’s got personality. Like they had in the 1970s.”


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