Antonin Peretjatko • Director
by Fabien Lemercier
- Encounter with a young filmmaker who unveiled his surprising first feature film in Cannes, The Rendez-Vous of Déjà-Vu.
Noticed for his short films, Antonin Peretjatko unveiled his first feature film during the Directors’ Fortnight at the 66th Cannes Film Festival, the very creative and burlesque The Rendez-Vous of Déjà-Vu [+see also:
film profile] (review).
Cineuropa: Where did the idea of The Rendez-Vous of Déjà-Vu come from and how much improvisation took place on the set in comparison to the screenplay?
Antonin Peretjatko: I wanted to start with something very visual, rather burlesque, and the comic strip, Les Pieds nickelés. The difficulty in terms of structuring the screenplay was that there isn’t really a story in Les Pieds nickelés. I was interested in working on a sort of satirical and political humour that talks about contemporary France. For it all to come together, I added a love story. The problem with this type of approach is the financial set-up (Ed.: 1M€ budget), because rendering this visual aspect in the writing is very delicate, unless you have a literary style that I do not possess. As for improvisation, there was very little, even if my statement of intent indicated that we would try to make people believe as much as possible that there was improvisation in the acting or the way of filming. But improvisation cannot really be improvised, it is prepared beforehand. In any case, since the schedule was very tight, there was not much time during shooting to come up with a new scene.
How did you work on the blend of styles and different kinds of humour?
The patchwork style embraces quite a lot of things. This meant that the editing was complicated because humour is something very personal. It was difficult to sort out what some spectators would find funny, but others wouldn’t. I wanted to make a fun movie, and not hesitate to make use of cinematographic devices such as flashbacks, closing the iris and cross dissolves. If so many things appear to be different, it is all to do with rhythm: we break the rhythm, start again, slow down, speed up again... There are hardly any long takes and the longest shot is 1 min. 20 secs. During the shooting, I only took a few risks, I didn't film from several angles because I already had the editing in mind, which then followed pretty quickly. What matters is the rhythm and knowing when to cut a shot in order to accelerate or slow down the action.
What about the many references in the film?
The film that really influenced me and which is not in The Rendez-Vous of Déjà-Vu at all is Othello by Orson Welles, with its shots filmed in Malta and its reverse shots in Spain, which is not seen at all thanks to the magic of its editing. I said to myself that there must be a huge number of possibilities. Because we filmed The Rendez-Vous of Déjà-Vu over two years since the film was made bit by bit, there are many such sequences, sometimes with shots and reversed shots that were made one year apart, and it works. As for the cinematographic allusions, they are references that surfaced in a slightly subconscious way. It was only later on that I realized, for example, that the beginning of the film was reminiscent of Breathless. It was obvious, but I hadn’t thought about it when I was writing the screenplay. If The Rendez-Vous of Déjà-Vu makes people think of New Wave movies, it's also because of the images shot on 16mm film and the very strong colours, whereas today everything is desaturated. It may also remind you of Rozier or Rohmer because of the way it was filmed, as I only had a small team. It was a financial imperative, but also voluntary because I wanted to be free, able to change sidewalks if a ray of sunshine appeared. Today, filming is highly calibrated, everyone is very anxious in terms of the screenplay and afraid of financial failure: they try to make everything predictable. That is also why The Rendez-Vous of Déjà-Vu seems quite free, but this freedom, I gave it to myself with zero self-censorship. I just revived a certain freedom found in the cinema of the '60s.
Would you like to continue exploring this burlesque atmosphere in your next films?
I want to do one more movie, maybe two, in this particular genre to refine it and because I feel comfortable with it. But then I have a project that is not really a comedy, because I do not want to be put in a category too soon.