Wednesday, December 7

«Women have much more pressure in the fight against time»


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In 2015, the French director Solveig Anspach He passed away after a long fight against cancer. During the last years of his life he was working on a film inspired by something that happened to his own mother. That project was ‘The Young Lovers’, a love story between a 71-year-old widowed woman and a married man much younger than her. Before her death, Anspach made promise to Agnes de Sacy, co-author of the script, that the film would end up seeing the light. The project ended up falling into the hands of Carine Tardieu (Paris, 1973), an experienced director who already had three films behind her.

‘The Young Lovers’, starring fanny ardant Y Melvil Poupadarrives in Spanish cinemas on June 9 and ABC has had the opportunity to interview its director.

– In the cinema it is very common that we see romances between mature men and much younger women. This movie shows the other side of the coin…

– That’s how it is. Actually, the story was already given to me so I didn’t have a political intention behind it but it is true that there is a social taboo. We usually see older men in the cinema who are with much younger women but the other way around is much less frequent. Perhaps it is because women do not give themselves permission to live these kinds of stories. And the taboo also exists because women have much more pressure than men in the fight against time and against their bodies.

– What changes did you introduce with respect to the original script?

– We have kept the basis of the story but what we have done is develop the secondary characters more and give them more prominence. Another thing that I have changed is that I have tried to make a brighter film, because the original story was very dark. After all, Solveig was talking about his own finitude.

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– Did you always have Fanny Ardant in mind to star in the film?

– I don’t usually think of specific actors when I write. References come to mind but they are usually of actors who have already died. Fanny was the first actress I used for this role but she is also one of the few actresses who assume her age. Before we started filming, we made a deal: she had to let me film her old age without cheating on her.

– There are a couple of scenes where Shauna (Ardant) is in a locker room and the camera stops at the naked bodies of the other women. I guess it was important for you to show those mature bodies that we don’t usually see in the movies…

– In the first script there were sex scenes in which Shauna’s naked body was seen. But neither I nor Fanny wanted her to undress. She has never done it throughout her career. However, I also thought it was a bit hypocritical to make a film about the sexuality of a 70-year-old woman without showing the bodies. So I imagined these scenes in the swimming pool locker room to show the bodies of women of this age. I wanted to show bodies marked by age in a context of joy because these women are sharing a moment in which they are freed from social pressure. It is an attentive and loving look of women towards women.

– What was it that made you opt for Melvil Poupad to play Pierre?

– In the movie he is a doctor so in his professional life he is someone who is very sure of himself but, in his private life, he is much more fragile. Melvil is also like that, he exudes virility and self-confidence but, at the same time, you can see the child that he has inside of him and he is a man who is very connected with his emotions.

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– How did you work the relationship between the two protagonists?

– There was almost no preparation. It was love at first sight. Melvil really wanted to work with Fanny because she admires her a lot and Fanny was also curious to work with him. The complicity between the two was seen from the beginning.

– It can give the impression that Pierre and Shauna fall in love immediately. Do you believe that love at first sight really exists?

– I don’t think it’s love at first sight. They meet at a time of great fragility for both of them. They share a special moment in which they are good together without talking much and I think that is just the seed, a prologue in which there is still no love. When they meet again 15 years later, I don’t think there is magic between the two. What there is is a progressive construction of a love. He is very moved by this woman and she, when he realizes that, she is also very moved. We realized in writing the script that the story didn’t work without that prologue because that seed was necessary.

– The character of Melvil’s wife (Cécile de France) copes with infidelity well at first but, as the film progresses, she assimilates the new situation worse and worse. How do you explain her evolution?

– There is a first stage in her reaction when she is aware that her husband has cheated on her but she does not think that this will affect the couple. When she finds out that her husband’s lover is much older than her, she realizes that it really is a love story and that’s when she collapses and goes through different stages: rage, resignation… Deep down it’s an opportunity for her to review her relationship with her partner and, through this event, to be able to rediscover an inner strength that had disappeared.

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– Fanny Ardant never watches the movies she works on. For a director, that will be difficult to assimilate…

– Obviously, there is a part of frustration. I suggested that he listen to the film without seeing the image, but he didn’t want to do it either. Later, over time, I realized that it’s really lucky. There are other actresses, more women than men, who do not want to see his films because they feel that they are not in control of their image at any time. Fanny gives herself fully to the shoot and gives everything she has and, although she cannot be seen on video, she remembers all the details perfectly. In interviews, she tells the movie as if she had seen it.

‘The Young Lovers’ opens on June 9.

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