Nicolas Bedos • Regista di Mascarade
"Non c'è nessuno sforzo da parte mia, mai, per cercare di creare film popolari"
di Jan Lumholdt
- CANNES 2022: Il regista francese condivide alcune riflessioni sul suo rinnovato amore per le grandi attrici e sulla sua presenza a Cannes come regista, piuttosto che come celebrità
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Mascarade [+leggi anche:
intervista: Nicolas Bedos
scheda film], entered out of competition at the 75th Cannes Film Festival, is Nicolas Bedos’ third directorial effort to premiere on the French Riviera, a place that also features prominently in the film. He shared some thoughts on his ongoing love for great actresses and his presence at the festival as a filmmaker, rather than as a celebrity.
Cineuropa: Your film starts with a W Somerset Maugham quote addressing the French Riviera. To what extent would you say that his spirit is present in this film?
Nicolas Bedos: He’s a writer I have enjoyed thoroughly, especially because of his way of blending melancholy and sarcasm. He’s hard on his characters, as am I, but also affectionate towards them, which to an extent redeems them at the end. He lived in this sublime and gorgeous house in Cap Ferrat and adored the Riviera – a Riviera that, unfortunately, has changed, through the passing of time and real-estate speculation.
You saw significant success with La Belle Epoque [+leggi anche:
intervista: Nicolas Bedos
scheda film]. Did you sense this beforehand, and would you dare to feel something similar with Mascarade?
I never feel or know anything beforehand. I start a number of scripts that I later abandon, and it takes a lot of effort to actually decide that, yes, this one I want to commit to and spend years of my life working on. That depends not just on the story, but also on the sense of pleasure it brings, and why not some anxiety, too? But there’s no effort from my side – ever – to try to make something popular. Mascarade feels somewhat riskier than La Belle Epoque because it’s so much darker.
La Belle Epoque had Daniel Auteuil and Fanny Ardant, and Mascarade has a grand cast, headed up by Isabelle Adjani. Is there something to the notion of playing with the image of such icons in the French acting world?
In the case of Auteuil and Ardant, I simply drew on the genius of their acting. It was like that with Adjani as well, but here, I did enjoy playing with her image, to give it an ambivalence. In France, Adjani embodies the very essence of acting: there’s something simply dreamlike about her and her life, including the private side, and with time, she has also embodied what it means for an actress to age. All of that provided elements that would help in creating her character here – perfect for us voyeurs, us lovers of movies like this about these movie stars.
When it comes to ageing film stars, it’s almost impossible not to think of Norma Desmond, Gloria Swanson’s character in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard. Did you bring some of Norma into Adjani, or did you try your best to avoid her?
Exactly that: I tried to avoid her. Sunset Boulevard is magnificent, but the era of its heavy symbolism and heightened acting isn’t appropriate today. In general, I try to distance myself from my influences, at least consciously. Subconsciously, I’m sure they continue to direct me.
What kinds of film experiences and stars have influenced, or at least affected, you?
In Claude Chabrol’s Hell, I fell as deeply in love with Emmanuelle Béart as François Cluzet does in the film. I fell head over heels in love with Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice and with Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Liaisons. These three actresses were my first loves, bringing thrills, longing and physical desire – all in the cinema, long before I fell in love with a flesh-and-bones woman. And I hope that this Mascarade of mine might repay this debt that I have to cinema, that it might express that sense of desire and suffering that love creates – perhaps even for a 15- or 17-year-old, who may accidentally wander into the theatre and see this film.
Are there any great French actresses out there whom you would like to work with in the future?
There are. And when there are no more of them left, I’ll get on a pedal boat and cross the English Channel, and work with some great British actresses.
Directing films is only one of your many activities. In France, you are more well known in front of the camera, especially on television. Do you sense the difference when being at a festival, where the focus will be on your filmmaking efforts?
This is my third time at Cannes with a film. At first, it gave me anxiety, but less so these days – but I still can’t quite believe it’s happening. I get interviewed by international journalists who will talk about the love and the mysteries of cinema. As someone who is very well known in France, a proper celebrity, I would say, whose life and family are often discussed, it’s deeply pleasurable to be able to talk about the very reason I’m here, which is the film I have brought along.
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