David Trueba • Director
“Shooting this film was tremendously cathartic”
- Spain's David Trueba releases Casi 40, an independent road movie made with total freedom that scooped the Special Jury Prize Biznaga de Plata at this year’s Malaga Film Festival
David Trueba (Madrid, 1969) was the joint winner of the Special Jury Prize Biznaga de Plata at the 2018 Malaga Film Festival with Casi 40 [+see also:
interview: David Trueba
film profile], a road movie spiced up with song and starring Lucía Jiménez and Fernando Ramallo, who reprise the roles they played 22 years ago in the writer and director’s first feature, The Good Life. The film is set to hit cinemas this Friday, distributed by Avalon, following an outing at the Cinema Jove Festival in Valencia.
Cineuropa: What drove you to revisit these particular characters?
David Trueba: My most recent novel, Tierra de campos, which was about a forty-something singer still active in the musical scene. It made me ask myself, what becomes of those who, at 30, right in the middle of their careers and with a family or stable relationship, decide to stop living in permanent instability and choose a different type of life? When Lucía Jiménez filmed The Good Life, she sang and was in a band; she got offers to make a record and she flirted with the idea, but never did it because her acting career took off. What might have happened if she had continued down that path? One evening, when I was having dinner with her and Fernando Ramallo, I was surprised to learn that they hadn’t made a feature film in a decade. So, I decided I’d make one with them, and I went back to that idea of music. At the time I was bogged down in one of those typical film industry projects, backed by TV networks that kept piling on the pressure — so I chucked it all in to focus on Casi 40: it was wonderfully cathartic.
Did the actors bring their own slant to the film?
I’m not really one for improvisation — actors sometimes don’t know what to say — so I gave them a fully written script. Of course, in each of the characters, the actor’s personality and mannerisms come through. A lot of the time, I write without knowing what actors will be playing the roles, but that wasn’t the case here. Knowing that Lucía could sing and play the guitar, and that she wouldn’t be too fazed by performing musically in front of a lot of people, shaped the plot of the film and also how it was staged, and the live singing added intensity. In Fernando’s character also, there are elements that come from him — that property he has, something halfway between darkness and bitterness, that I really like, with his idealised vision of the past.
In this film, you once again place two actors in an enclosed space, like you did in Madrid, 1987 [+see also:
interview: María Valverde
film profile]. Are you attracted by these intimate situations between characters?
The two films have a lot in common. My friends in the film industry call them “professional suicide”; they are very exposing films, like being thrown into an empty arena in the middle of the night with a 600-kilo bull. But I enjoyed it at the time and so I’ve made another; it gave the actors a sense of freedom, with no need to worry about investor expectations. There was none of that with this film, and once again it was a very personal experience. Our first objective was to enjoy what we were doing; what we did after that wasn’t important. We completed the filming in just a week and a half, with a crew of five or six people, staying together in hotels in different cities.
The Truebas seem to have a fascination with road movies — we just need to look at your nephew Jonás’s film, The Romantic Exiles [+see also:
interview: Jonás Trueba
When Jonás released that film, there were people who said to me: “Your nephew has made a film version of your novel Cuatro amigos,” and I would say no, the road movie is a wonderful format that has been used to tell millions of different stories, and it’s completely understandable because journeys are so interesting for all sorts of narrative. They lift people out of their daily lives and force them to reinvent themselves on the way. You never know where the trip will take you, and, at the same time, you don’t need to show the audience what the character’s house is like, or their family or their workplace; you have to guess all of that from the characters and their conversations. From Cervantes to Alexander Payne, everyone has been drawn to road movies — including the Truebas, of course.
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