Vincent Macaigne’s Dom Juan, between incitement and freedom
by Giorgia Del Don
- LOCARNO 2015: The film of multifaceted French director Vincent Macaigne in competition in the Cineasti del presente section of the Locarno Film Festival
Vincent Macaigne, the ‘enfant terrible’ of French theatre, who is a theatre and film director but also trained as an actor at the Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique, once again challenges convention and good taste with an innovative film adaptation of Molière’s Dom Juan, which is being screened in the Cineasti del presente section of the Locarno Film Festival. Radical and completely personal, just like his relationship with the arts.
Macaigne may have ‘inconvenienced’ (but above exposed) the Comédie Française theatre company no less with his film Dom Juan [+see also:
interview: Vincent Macaigne
film profile], but the fruit of his labours is anything but classic. But clearly that was never his intention. Instead of remaining faithful to the original text, the precision of the Comédie in the film is everything that Molière is not, with a group of unrestrained (lasciviously wild, even) actors swallowed up by Hurricane Macaigne. His Don Juan Tenorio abandons his aristocratic libertine persona to don that of an insolent and blasphemous metrosexual. Intolerable yet painfully accurate. A character imbued with a positively contemporary narcissism, as sadly fake as the tattoos that cover his body, with a magnificent performance by Loïc Corbery.
The classic hero gradually transforms under the watchful eye of Macaigne, becoming a sad and desperate narcissist surrounded by bodies that yearn to please him. The film retains fragments of the original classical text, delivered by a group of actors that have lost all theatrical points of reference. Although this lively French director’s version of the story retains very little of Molière’s original text, it is not provocative and cannot be mocked. On the contrary, it emanates a highly contemporary dark and crumbling freedom. The spirit of anarchic youth, unconventional and rebellious, remains, transformed, however, in the restless hands of Macaigne, into something more evasive, mysterious and obscure. As Loïc Corbery puts it: “As he does on stage, (Vincent Macaigne) takes a literary work and makes it his own. He respects the challenges of the piece but completely messes with the form.” An attitude that is certainly not to everyone’s liking, but has the undisputed virtue of injecting strength into the piece and rekindling the spark that lives on in other texts. Outrageous or divine, it’s up to the audience to decide.
(Translated from Italian)