"I allowed myself a lot of freedom"
by Fabien Lemercier
- At the Les Arcs European Film Festival, we met up with Eva Husson, the director of Bang Gang, a stunning feature debut that is not for the faint-hearted
At the seventh Les Arcs European Film Festival, Cineuropa sat down with French director Eva Husson, the director of Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) [+see also:
interview: Eva Husson
film profile], an astonishing feature debut that is not for the faint-hearted.
Cineuropa: Where did you get the idea for Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story)?
Eva Husson: For a long time I’d been working on a project for which I had really made an effort to keep on the straight and narrow, to give people what they expected of me, and that turned out to be a complete disaster. I thought to myself that if I ever made another film, if I had to experience another failure, this time it would be connected with something that I was passionate about. I then stumbled across a little news item that piqued my interest and intrigued me: how can one live in a small, middle-class town and go that far? I am drawn in by telling extreme stories, and when I discovered this implausible story, I wondered how to make it believable and create a narrative around that. This news item made a huge splash in the media, and I had a lot of factual elements at my disposal. I was also lucky not to meet the protagonists face to face, and so I was able to keep quite a distance and incorporate whatever I wanted to put into the film. I stayed true to the core issue of sixth-form students, and something that suddenly spins out of control and that, as one thing leads to another, takes on enormous dimensions. But I allowed myself a lot of freedom. And to tell you the truth, at first, the sexual aspect slowed me down somewhat: I told myself that it wouldn’t be easy to write, to fund or to direct.
What stance did you adopt in order to avoid the risqué or sensationalistic side of the topic?
Certain filmmakers have already done a very good job of approaching sex head-on, and I think that in 2015, it’s no longer a challenge in cinema. We’re now living in an age of permanent overexposure to pornographic images, and film must take back a more intimate territory. Rather, I wanted to understand why that still constituted a way of building up intimacy for these kids, and how they managed, through this sexual overexposure, to become loving people to the extent that they needed. I found it was enormously challenging to do it through sex, and through such an extreme form of sex.
In Bang Gang, nudity is approached in a very natural way.
I gave it this spin because I experience nudity in this way, owing to my upbringing and my own personal experience. As a teenager, I used to hang around on nudist beaches on Ibiza, and nudity wasn’t necessarily linked to sex. It’s important to remember that the naked body is not only a sexual body. Incidentally, in the parties in the film, even if the characters think it’s extremely sexualised, we often see them strolling along naked, as if they were on a beach: you forget about yourself, about your body, and there’s a certain simplicity in nudity that is no longer a sexual issue all the time. I was also very careful to ensure that there were very few scenes where they are completely naked in a wide shot. And a lot of sex scenes are filmed as close-ups, or we don’t then linger for long on them. It’s not necessary, because each person makes up his or her own mental picture of what’s going on. It’s like what happens with horror films: the more you put in, the less believable it is. I like this idea of feeding the audience’s imagination just enough for them to be able to put together their own picture of it.
The film also paints a portrait of a generation deeply immersed in image and social networks.
These teenagers can no longer build up their intimacy in private: they are forced to shape their personalities through overexposing their own image, at an age when they’re completely narcissistic and when they’re looking for the right distance to portray themselves from. And their non-stop use of mobile phones and taking photos, that certainly doesn’t help... Some of them will go too far, while others already have a very focused sense of what is good for them.
Bang Gang has some very accomplished aesthetics. What were your intentions for the cinematography?
To enhance the natural. I think that if you take life and look at it in a very raw way, it’s something of a disappointing subject. But if you manage to look at it in a good light, to bring out the slightly more intense moments from it, there is immediately a kind of ballet that can be created, which can prove to be very interesting. It’s that feeling that I wanted to transpose with this stance of using cinematography that seems natural but that always incorporates a little bit of trickery, in the same vein as the work of Harris Savides and Gus Van Sant.
(Translated from French)