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Coralie Fargeat • Director

"I was aiming for something so excessive that it became almost surreal"

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- French director Coralie Fargeat talks to us about her explosive debut feature film Revenge, sold around the globe since its premiere at Toronto

Coralie Fargeat • Director
(© Alexandra Fleurantin, Olivier Monge / Les Arcs European Film Festival)

Back from Sundance, Coralie Fargeat tells the exceptional story of Revenge [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Coralie Fargeat
film profile
]
, an entirely extraordinary directorial debut, sold worldwide by Charades since premiering at Toronto, and due to make its French debut via Rezo.

Cineuropa: How did Revenge come about?
Coralie Fargeat : I wanted to create a pure genre film in the spirit of what nurtured the cinephile in me. I came up with the idea of a female character who is initially perceived as vulnerable, because she embodies certain ideas in a very sexy and provocative manner – the victim of how people look at her. Before completely transforming, seizing power and escaping the box that she was previously trapped inside. A strong and pure rebirth. The other ingredients followed suite, in particular the desert, which is used as a means of escaping realism and creating a sort of phantasmagoria. As for the rape trigger, it was a symbolic way of encompassing the violence and inequality that women suffer.

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The film is very physical. How far did you want to go with the expression of violence?
I wanted to build a sensitive and sensory universe. Initially, there are certain feelings in the film that are linked to the sensuality of the bodies, the sun, skin and carnality. These feelings then turn into something harder, cruder, with all the sweat, physical exertion and wounds that I wanted to feel mesmerising in their extremism – and which are actually very violent – but which I also wanted to disconnect from realism in the way that Southern Korean films often do. I was aiming for something so excessive that it became almost surreal.

What about the film's black humour?
I handled the subject matter and the characters’ intentions in the first person because it wasn't about parody or reference. However, I do like it when the characters are so completely immersed in excess, insanity and indignation, that it becomes almost cathartic, funny even.

In terms of the visuals and sound, Revenge is very stylised.
I listened to a lot of electronic music that ultimately impacted the film’s sound identity, which I wanted to be very strong and marked. As for the visual aspect, at the beginning, it’s very intoxicating, juicy, sexy, colourful, full of pop, blues and pinks. I wanted to shift it towards a feeling of heaven on earth, something fun. Then the desert becomes an increasingly imposing character, reaching beyond the characters. One of my references was the most recent Mad Max film, and I played on the blue skies and the colour of blood in particular.

Very incisive genre films are still quite rare in French production. Is a trend emerging?
What is beginning to change is that a whole generation of individuals is taking the reins – directors, producers, financiers, TV professionals – who tend to be amateurs with this kind of cinema. What will ultimately make the difference is the volume of production and distribution. The more successful attempts there are, the more of an effect training will have. With Raw, Revenge and The Night Eats the World a small wave is developing that has different ways of appropriating a genre that is still carried by sincere auteurs. But it's a hell of a fight because the doors are still far from open.

Revenge offers women a radical solution to male aggression.
This is obviously to be interpreted from a metaphorical point of view (laughs). The solution is not to take out your gun and kill everyone. But the film’s message is about breaking the code of silence, where everything is done to ensure than women remain silent and victims of a social, cultural and societal organisation. They need to make their voices heard and not let any aggression go. And this isn’t just about rape, verbal violence and sexism on social networks is absolutely insane, too. As women, we learn how to handle danger, how to navigate it. It's like swimming with sharks. I hope that the historical revolution that is taking place – the mass awareness of these very deep-seated behaviours and imbalances in society – will lead to a real rebalancing and fundamental change in our mentalities. It’s this second step that will be decisive, but there’s no turning back.

(Translated from French)

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