Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Director's Chair: Isild Le Besco

Le Besco has started her career as an actress and then moved to film-making by 2004. Her family is deeply into the movie industry, her sister Maïwenn Le Besco is an actress, brother Jowan Le Besco is a director and actor and her other brother Kolia Litscher also acts.
So far she wrote and directed two movies, Demi-tarif and Charly, and also directed the short story T'es Ou?, the documentary Le Marais (2005) and a segment of the movie Enfances (2007) called "Le regard d'un enfant”, where she also acts. At this rate and considering her age (she was born in 1982), I can foresee a long and prolific career.
What characterizes her work? Simple, intimist stories that portray a moment in the characters lives.
As far as the movies I watched go, Isild Le Besco seems to want her movies to look “rough”, without using fancy camera work, powerful soundtracks or other distractions. At several moments, it almost seems like the kind of home-made movie any of us could do with our cameras (but not really). This is not something that is easy to achieve. Doing some low-budget look, high-quality film is not for everyone.
In my interpretation, I believe she wants us to focus on the story, the substance and not the form. It's about the soul and not about the vessel carrying it.
Le Besco is already planning to direct her third film, the story of three women who accidentally kill someone. As always, her characters remain outsiders. I can't wait to watch this one.

Demi-tarif (2004) aka Half-price
With Kolia Litscher, Lila Salet, Cindy David
Isild was nineteen when she wrote and directed this 63 minutes-long movie.
The story is told from the children's point of view. Three young siblings aged 7, 8 and 9 live alone in a modest apartment. Apparently they were abandoned by their mother and they survive on their own, eating whatever they want, attending school and misbehaving, while keeping their situation a secret.
The children are naked on some scenes. Isild says in an interview that it came naturally, it wasn't pre-programed but there is something animal, wilde, about the state they were in, and in that state it would have been weird to have them dressed, not the opposite.
If this movie is a drama or not, that's a decision Isild prefers to leave to the viewers. It is just a movie about a situation and the feeling about that situation.

Charly (2007)
With Julie-Marie Parmentier, Kolia Litscher
“The loneliness of being young and alone" was the most important thing in this movie, in the director's own words.
Nicolas is a fourteen year-old foster child living with an elderly couple, waiting for the future to come. He sees no future and he is bored, feeling unchallenged. One night he runs away with a book, a postcard and some money he stole from them. The book Nicolas is trying to read is Frank Wedekind's L'Éveil du Printemps, and he will end up reading it with Charly. I suggest some research about the book, it might prove interesting.
When sleeping, Nicolas dreams about the sea and sea life. He wants to see the Ocean.
Charly is played by Parmentier, an actress Le Besco met while working together as teenagers on Emmanuelle Bercot's Le Choix d'Elodie. Le Besco actually thought about playing the part herself, had she not given the part of Nicolas to her brother Kolia. At moments, Kolia/Nicolas has this amazing look of countenance that I will not forget soon.

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