Fabrice du Welz • Director
"My greatest challenge today is to allow emotions to run free"
- We met with Belgian director Fabrice du Welz, who is currently shooting his sixth full-length feature, Adoration, in his homeland after two taxing experiences in France and the USA
Belgian director Fabrice du Welz is currently shooting his sixth full-length film, Adoration, which recounts the frantic flight of two adolescents who are madly in love with one another, with young actors Fantine Harduin and Thomas Gioria topping the bill, shored up by a swanky cast including Peter Van den Begin, Charlotte Vandemeersch, Béatrice Dalle and Benoît Poelvoorde. We chatted with the director about his new film and his return to Belgium following two taxing experiences in France and the USA.
Cineuropa: What is Adoration about?
Fabrice du Welz: It’s the story of a somewhat simple and innocent young boy who lives with his mother, a general worker in a mental institution for reasonably well-off patients. One day a young girl called Gloria arrives. She’s the same age as him, she suffers from an onerous psychiatric illness, and he falls madly in love with her. Ultimately, Gloria will take our young hero on a strange journey, travelling to the point of no return.
Your films often explore the theme of transgression, or disorder…
In this instance, we’re talking about disorder. This is probably the gentlest film I’ve ever made, it’s a love story through and through. I want this film to be packed full of emotion, which may have been what was missing in the first two films of the trilogy, The Ordeal [+see also:
film profile] and Alleluia [+see also:
interview: Fabrice Du Welz
film profile]. I’ve never wanted to make overtly provocative films. People say I make violent films, but what I actually try to do is explore the issues that fascinate me, issues affecting humanity: the inability to love, to live, to suffer and, simply, to be.
Have you found the living incarnation of Gloria’s character?
Gloria is a character who has been with me for some time now. She’s a character who encompasses two types of female and two types of neuroses. She’s the woman that I love, that I fear, that I hope for. She represents the feminine side of myself that I’m exploring in this film. Gloria is played by the young actress Fantine Harduin - she was the obvious choice. She is tremendous, with incredible, crystal glass eyes which can show coldness and kindness, both at the same time. We then had to find a boy who could compete with her. Thomas Gioria, who was discovered in Custody [+see also:
interview: Xavier Legrand
film profile], is very different from her but, ultimately, they balance each another out.
You’ve returned to shooting movies in Belgium after a complicated experience in America?
That’s it for me, I won’t be making any more films where I’m given the run around by a producer. If it means having to make small films for the rest of my life, then that’s what I’ll do. Bringing films into the world that I’m not 100% proud of is unacceptable in my view. The US wasn’t as complicated as France, but it was still hard. I want to be able to follow my vision through to the very end. I’d be happy to return to the US to work for Netflix or Amazon, for example, but I’d want carte blanche to do what I want. I don’t want people hassling me, I’m too old for that now.
What is the greatest challenge you face today?
My greatest challenge on this shoot is to allow emotions to run free. I’ve always been a bit of a prude … I can’t stand sentimentality or people who put their emotions on show. There is something truly noble about emotion, but how do you go about conveying it in its true form? We’re living in a world that’s so overloaded with emotions, it’s almost pornographic. I’m looking for an “alchemistic” emotion that is capable of changing the way we look at something. This is what I felt when I watched Breaking the Waves. In my eyes, this is a brilliant film because not only did it affect me emotionally, it also helped me to grow, both as an artist and as a human being. That’s the kind of emotion I’m looking for. Before, I couldn’t have handled it. I can be quite dogmatic and partisan - there have been a lot of things that I’ve not allowed myself to do and I’ve ended up paying the price for that. I regret not having been more closely involved in certain situations in my previous films, instead of prioritising and obsessing over the form. Of course, form is still very important to me, but these days I’m more interested in the outlook of the film.
(Translated from French)
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