Monday, April 20, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #3 - Jacques Audiard

This is not the first Cannes Check I do for one of my most admired contemporary French directors. As a matter of fact he was covered in my first experiment about the Directors and their films in Cannes main competition in 2012 when he was part of the Official Selection with De Rouille et d'Os (Rust & Bone). If you wish to read what I wrote then go here.

But believe that since 2012 have improved reporting about each director, so here I go with the third installment of the Cannes 2015 Directors Series.

Jacques Audiard

Born on April, 30, 1952 in Paris, France and surprisingly -or maybe not- in his teens he was not interested in movies as filmmaking was kind of the family business; so, he went to La Sorbonne to study literature and philosophy. He never finished his degree as started to work as assistant editor on several movies, including 1976 Le Locataire by Roman Polanski. By early 1980's he successfully began screen writing films like 1984 Réveillon chez Bob!, 1988 Mortelle randonnée, 1988 Fréquence Meurtre, 1987 Saxo and 1994 Grosse Fatigue. He also joined a theater where he work doing stage adaptations.

In 1994 he does his first feature film, Regarde les hommes tomber (See How They Fall) with none other than Jean-Louis Trintignant, a film that was part of the 1994 Cannes Directors Fortnight and that gave Audiard his first César Award for Best First Work. His second feature film, Un héros très discret (A Self-Made Hero) was In Competition at 1996 Cannes and gave Audiard the Best Screenplay Award for his adaptation of a novel with the same name by Jean-François Deniau.

Then in 1998 he does a short film, Norme française, that is part of an anti-AIDS campain initiated by the French Ministry of Health. Audiard takes his time to do his third film, 2001 Sur mes lèvres (Read My Lips) starring Emmanuelle Devos and Vincent Cassel a film that got 9 César nominations and won 3 for Best Screenplay, Best Sound and Best Actress. Then in 2005 his fourth film comes to life, De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) starring Romain Duris and Emmanuelle Devos; film was in competition for Golden Bear at 2005 Berlinale and won a Silver Bear for Best Film Music by Alexandre Desplait. This film collected several honors including the BAFTA for Best Film not in the English Language, the Lumiere Award for Best Film; also won 8 César award, including Best Film and Best Director.

We arrive to his fifth film , the one I still consider his most disturbing and mesmerizing, the one that made me absolutely fall for him with my most sincere admiration, 2009 Un Prophète (A Prophete). Even if I made no emphasis perhaps you noticed that since his first film Audiard has worked with top of the top of French actors and in his first/second movie he introduced a newcomer Mathieu Kassovitz that went to win the César for Most Promising Actor for See How They Fall. The same happened with A Prophet that introduced outstanding Tahar Rahim (in photo with Audiard) that won two Césars, Most Promising Actor and Best Actor and became one actor that I following very close and try to see everything with him.

As we know Un Prophète premiered In Competition in 2009 Cannes and went to win the Grand Prize and collected many more honors, including an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film, the Prix Louis Delluc, les Étoiles d'Or. Won't say more about A Prophet as will be repeating myself too much with praises I've given to film in many posts of this blog. Also in 2009 he did a short film La Voix, another short film part of a campaign against family violence; and in 2011 he does a video that accompanies the third live recording of French singer Raphael in a concert a Clemont-Ferrand on December 4, 2010, the name: Raphaël live vu par Jacques Audiard.

His sixth film has his peculiar violence style but it's different, De Rouille et d'Os (Rust & Bone) premieres In Competition at 2012 and for me was unbelievable that collected no awards. Still according to IMdB, the film has 34 wins and 65 nominations and according to allocine 16 prizes and 32 nominations, so no matter the source film went to collect many accolades, including many nominations for Marion Cotillard, some honors for Matthias Schoenaerts and more honors for Jacques Audiard as a director and screenwriter.

Last, we arrive to his seventh film. Isn't amazing that Audiard in his 40 years of cinema career has done only seven (7) feature films? He -as well as his father- have a more prolific career as screenwriters than as directors. His seventh film is Dheepan that is In Competition at 2015 Cannes, it is Audiard's fifth time in Cannes and the fourth time In Competition.  Believe you can call Jacques Audiard a Cannes regular.

There is not much information about Dheepan as many were speculating that was not going to be ready for Cannes, but to the surprise of many -including me- and my huge delight, film was not only ready but is part of the main competition. Will share what I know about film that Cannes calls Dheepan as a temporary name, which is also known as Erran and in French is also known as Dheepan – L’homme qui n’aimait plus la guerre.

Without being an adaptation, Dheepan is loosely inspired in the Lettres persanes by Montesquieu. Mostly Indian press reports that parts of film were shot in Tamil Nadu, Rameshwaram, Mandapam and Ooty, but most parts were shot in Paris. Audiard is introducing two newcomers in their first ever film role, Antonythasan Jesuthasan and Kalieaswari Srinivasan; many comment that one or both could relive what Tahar Rahim and Mathieu Kassovitz lived when first worked with Audiard.

What do I expect from film? Believe film will be more like A Prophet with ultra-realism style, very violent -Audiard style of course-, and with the use of symbols in the narrative. So no, will not be commercial cinema but won't be art cinema, will have the very particular Audiard style that usually generates mesmerizing films with extraordinary performances. Deep in my heart hope this film will bring Audiard the much deserved Palme d'Or (I know A Prophet deserved the top award, but also Haneke deserved the award he won) and there are always big possibilities that one or both actors become Best Actor contenders.

Basic info about Dheepan
Director: Jacques Audiard
Scriptwriter: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain and Noé Debré
Language: French
Runtime: 109 min
Production countries: France
Production Companies: Why Not Productions (Pascal Caucheteux), France 2 Cinéma, Page 114,
collaboration in India with Wide Angle Creations (Suresh Balaje and George Pius)
Distribution: UGC Distribution, Sundance Selects in USA, Celluloid Dreams sales agent in partnership with Wild Bunch.

Cast: Newcomers Antonythasan Jesuthasan as Dheepan and Kalieaswari Srinivasan as Yalini. Also Marco Zinga and Vincet Rottiers

Plot Summary
A Tamil fighter flees the war-torn Sri Lanka. He seeks asylum in France as a political refugee, posing as a husband and father to two fellow escapees. In the suburbs of Paris, he takes up a position as caretaker of a run-down housing block. His attempt to manage a stable life is interrupted by the violent gang of the drug dealers that rules the derelict neighborhood. Unwillingly drawn into the conflict, the former warrior must make a difficult choice whether to take a violent path once more.

Synopsis in French
Dheepan est un combattant de l'indépendance tamoule, un Tigre. La guerre civile touche à sa fin au Sri Lanka, la défaite est proche, Dheepan décide de fuir. Il emmène avec lui une femme et une petite fille qu'il ne connaît pas, espérant ainsi obtenir plus facilement l'asile politique en Europe. Arrivée à Paris, cette « famille » vivote d'un foyer d'accueil à l'autre, jusqu'à ce que Dheepan obtienne un emploi de gardien d'immeuble en banlieue. Dheepan espère y bâtir une nouvelle vie et construire un véritable foyer pour sa fausse femme et sa fausse fille. Bientôt cependant, la violence quotidienne de la cité fait ressurgir les blessures encore ouvertes de la guerre. Le soldat Dheepan va devoir renouer avec ses instincts guerriers pour protéger ce qu'il espérait voir devenir sa « vraie » famille.

The only available up-to-today Film Still

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