Eve Deboise • Director
“Paradise is only paradise because it is lost, or because we are forced to leave it”
by Aurore Engelen
- With Paradis Perdu, Eve Deboise delivers a modest yet sensual first film on the confusion of feelings, between latent incest and (re-)awakening of the senses
After obtaining a degree in law, Eve Deboise entered the Beaux-Arts school in Paris, and then the Fémis (screenwriting department). There she met Rithy Panh whose first two fiction films she wrote. She adapted Henry James for Olivier Schatzky (The Pupil), then collaborated with Christophe Blanc (Une femme d’extérieur), Maria de Medeiros (Capitaines d’Avril) and also worked with Toni Marshall, Jean-Claude Carrière, Danièle Thompson… After directing two short films, she is embarking on the feature film adventure with Paradis Perdu [+see also:
film profile] (review), which was released in France last summer and is being screened in Belgium during the Brussels Film Festival.
The nursery: the location as catalyst for the story
The location served as a catalyst; it enabled me to give body to the characters. I drew inspiration from a place I often visit, which has been in me for several years. I discovered a nursery, which had really existed, a location both beautiful but also slightly abandoned, with the beauty of its plants and flowers, and at the same time dust, rust and old machinery. I could see my characters there, a bit like Adam and Eve, a father and daughter in the Garden of Eden that this nursery really was. It was there that I was really able to make them exist, make them talk, or mostly stay silent. Some films have made a strong impression on me, in closed spaces. What I wanted to do in the midst of all this nature, even though it was very vast, was to describe a kind of psychological imprisonment in this space which is actually very open: I wanted the characters to be on a sort of island, in their own world. Some movies like that deeply inspired me, like Respiro [+see also:
film profile], or films by Kim Ki-Duk such as The Isle or The Bow, which take place entirely on a fishing trawler at sea, with an uneasy relationship between an older man and a very young girl. I had already worked on similar questions in my short film Petite Sœur with Olivier Gourmet, but I still had things to say, a need to rework this theme.
A universe close to the fairy tale
The film ran the risk of being yet another news item, the story of a brutal man who is violent towards his wife. I soon felt the need to move more towards a fairy tale. Some elements, already present in the screenplay, were emphasized during shooting, when confronted by nature, the magic of filming during the night in the forest. I also wanted the audience to be able to like the characters, to empathize with them, despite their behaviour. The tale enabled me to get around a potentially sordid reality. In fairy tales, there are always dead or absent mothers, and young girls who have to step up and take their place, a responsibility they sometimes fail to achieve or which is difficult to assume. In fact, I realized that as the filming got under way, the number of domestic scenes was increasing!
Dealing with incest
I wanted to work on confused sentiments, but also on sensuality. What I find interesting, is how to stage frustration, in feelings, but also in sensuality and sexuality. These characters are all in the grip of a kind of stifled desire. This desire needs to be expressed, one way or another, to find a way out.
Lucie's running away at the end is her liberation. It is a purely dynamic ending. And for me there is a kind of nostalgia when I see this image; going in search of this type of fulfilment is also a kind of mourning. Paradise is only paradise because it is lost, or because we are forced to leave it. I wanted to work on this feeling of loss, which can also reveal human beings.
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