Rhiannon Harries: I'll stick with Europe's celeb couples for my fairytale romances

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The Independent Online

Disappointing us is what celebrities do best; it's often, in fact, why we love them. But the celeb couple represents something else. Individually, they may be the most abject specimens of humanity, but it's hard not to feel a smidgen of goodwill towards two people in love.

Of course, any faith we invest in celeb relationships is a refraction of insecurities about our own. If that lot, with their enviable physiques and finances, can't make a go of it, what hope for us? No doubt that's why Brangelina makes for such a miserable sight these days. Ostensibly at the zenith of "having it all", Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's matching, joyless countenances make it look like the biggest drag on earth.

So if I am going to project my innermost desires on any couple right now, it is going to be a more convincing model of bliss. Step forward Europe's own, vastly superior answer to Brad and Ange: Monsieur Vincent Cassel and Signora Monica Bellucci.

If you can't quite place this pair, he is the charismatic actor who first lit up the big screen in 1995's gritty La Haine and is set to cement his star status with a formidable turn as France's most notorious criminal in Mesrine. She is the insanely gorgeous model-turned-actress who has shone in such films as L'Appartement and The Matrix Reloaded.

Cassel and Bellucci strike an irresistible balance between the ideal and the real. While Bellucci shares Jolie's brand of Mount Olympus beauty, Cassel – with his crooked nose and goggly eyes – could not look more different from Pitt. But witness one of his charged performances or his spiky charm in an interview and I defy you not to succumb.

Last month's edition of US Harper's Bazaar argued that Jolie's acquisition of the best specimen in the tribe has been the final confirmation of her alpha status. But Pitt looks like the human equivalent of an It-bag (eye-catching, but little substance) next to Cassel, and Bellucci is all the more intriguing for her less predictable choice.

Above all, Cassel and Bellucci just seem happy, but again in a comfortingly rough-with-the-smooth way – Cassel has spoken without preciousness of the stress of a relationship in the glare of the spotlight directed at them on the continent.

If ever we were to seek truths in the surface view of celeb pairings, these two make a more edifying spectacle than most. Pitt and Jolie embody the glossy hyper-reality of a Hollywood blockbuster; Cassel and Bellucci the grainier texture of classic European cinema. Both have their charms, but the latter feels as though it has a far greater purchase on real life.

'Mesrine: Killer Instinct' (15) is out on 7 August