Sven Taddicken • Director of The Most Beautiful Couple
"Can we really forget the bad things people have done to us?"
by Fabien Lemercier
- German director Sven Taddicken talks about his dramatic thriller The Most Beautiful Couple, unveiled at Toronto and screened at Arras
After initially arriving on the scene in competition at Rotterdam in 2001 with My Brother the Vampire and then directing The Happiness of Emma [+see also:
film profile], 12 Paces Without a Head [+see also:
film profile] and Original Bliss [+see also:
interview: Sven Taddicken
film profile] (in competition at Karlovy Vary in 2016), the German director Sven Taddicken plunged himself into working on a dramatic thriller about the consequences of rape, and the desire to forget or to get revenge in The Most Beautiful Couple [+see also:
interview: Sven Taddicken
film profile]. Unveiled at Toronto, the film was screened in competition at the 19th Arras Film Festival.
Cineuropa: Where did the idea forThe Most Beautiful Couple come from?
Sven Taddicken: Two main ideas led me to write the screenplay. The first was a terrible nightmare I had about my girlfriend and me: being forced to witness her rape while on holiday. This nightmare haunted me. Then came an idea that allowed the story to progress: one of them crosses paths with the rapist again. And at that point, a decision must be made: to approach him or to keep a distance? To get revenge or to forgive? And how does one go about making that sort of decision? This is the first time I have worked on a screenplay that was not an adaptation or co-written with someone else, and I wrote the first version of the screenplay pretty quickly, but it took me years to finish it because I wasn't sure about the ending. I also did some research at a Berlin organisation dealing with victims of sexual assault and, to my surprise, many friends who knew I was working on this film told me some very personal stories, none of which were as drastic as the event in the film, but which nevertheless demonstrated how out-of-the-ordinary, potentially dangerous situations and sexual violence are present in our lives.
The narrative structure is quite unusual with the rape in the prologue, a flash forward to two years later and, without really knowing the couple, the encounter and then quick chase for the rapist. Was the thing that interested you the most, the real heart of the film, the chase?
I wanted to focus on the couple's relationship and how they comprehend their respective actions. How does she react when he tracks down the rapist and tries to do something but not necessarily in the best way. And how does he react to her decision to do nothing at all? These scenes interested me the most. There have been a lot of films, especially since the 1970s, about rape and revenge, but I've never seen a film about people who decide to get on with their lives, overcoming the trauma. But is it tenable? Can we really forget the bad things people have done to us? They go through everything in this relationship because they are faced with numerous possibilities as a couple: forgiveness, denunciation, direct or indirect revenge, the choice to flee from the situation, etc.
The couple copes with the initial traumatic event in completely different ways.
What I liked in the dynamic was that she had a much more traumatic experience than him and has many more scars to heal, and yet he’s the one that has the most difficulty processing it. It was an interesting way to address toxic masculinity because he’s the one who bigs up the dimensions and makes a lot of mistakes: he decides to follow the rapist and forcefully break into his apartment, rather than go to the police. He gets increasingly more involved, step by step, and in the worst of ways, demonstrating that he is unable to face up to the event. And in the background, there’s also the question of whether or not we deserve love when we are unable to protect our partner from a terrible event.
Why did you decide to make the film into a thriller?
During the writing stage, it allowed me to tell a story by creating an engine to advance the plot. But I shot a lot of thriller-type material that I ended up leaving out during the editing phase because I realised that the heart of the film was the couple, and the weird situation they find themselves in after being forced to revisit this traumatic event.
You chose to shoot with one lens. Why?
The idea came from the director of photography Daniela Knapp. She had always wanted to try it because Bergman did it for a few films, Fassbinder too. I thought it was a good idea for this particular film because I wanted it to be perceived as a true story, which could happen in real life. The lens we chose is the same radius as the human eye, so it was also about seeing the world as it really is.
(Translated from French)
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