Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet • Director of Anaïs in Love
"It’s first and foremost a film about the power of desire"
- CANNES 2021: The French filmmaker speaks about her first feature film, a fast-paced, existentialist comedy of manners unveiled in Critics’ Week
Refreshing, entertaining and skilfully subdued, Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s first feature film Anaïs in Love [+see also:
interview: Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet
film profile] was treated to a Special Screening to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Critics’ Week, held within the 74th Cannes Film Festival.
Cineuropa: Where did the character of Anaïs come from?
Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet: She’s a character based on me, so you could call it autofiction. Three years ago, I made a short film called Pauline asservie, which also starred Anaïs Demoustier, whose focus was on a young woman who was a bit of a whirlwind, a bit all over the place, tiring, endearing… She was lots of things all at the same time and infused with a certain energy. After that short film, I really wanted to repeat the experience with Anaïs Demoustier, so I wrote the script for the feature film. It’s a mix of me, of Pauline from the short, of Anaïs and of thousands of other girls around me, around 30 years of age, like me, and no doubt characters from films or even novels.
How would you describe the film? Is it a romantic comedy?
It’s first and foremost a film about the power of desire, the way in which it can drive us in life and act as an engine, and I’m talking about desire in the wider sense, not just erotically or romantically. It’s also the portrait of a young, 30-year-old woman at a sort of crossroads in her life, because it’s an age where we we’re supposed to choose what we want to do, who we want to be, what type of love life, married life and, potentially, family life we want, how we want to develop professionally. It’s the portrait of a girl who wants to find herself, but also the story of an encounter between a young woman, Anaïs, and the character played by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, who is, for her part, an accomplished woman, a 55-year-old woman, a writer, a powerful woman.
The film revolves heavily around literature. How do you go about injecting it into the film without sliding into intellectualism?
I studied literature, I’ve worked in publishing. I never learned how to make films, so my gateway into film is writing, and then I work hard on the mise en scène in order to lend form to the language and to the dialogues and to bring it all to life. I wanted the film to unfold in a literary environment because it’s a world I know well. As it was a first film and I had quite a powerful story to tell - because the love triangle was actually a huge challenge for me, with all that it can entail in terms of first-degree emotions, and not just light comedy - I didn’t think it would be wise to explore an area I wasn’t familiar with, on top of all that. But also, given that it’s very important in my life, I thought it would be nice to tell a story about desire and love where it also unfolds on an intellectual level, because it’s a meeting between two different subjectivities, two women who have an intellectual appetite.
We move from nigh-on slapstick comedy at the beginning of the film, to intense sensuality. How did you work on this blend of genres?
While writing, filming and editing, one of the most important things in my mind was to allow these registers to co-exist, to lend the movie the comedic tone I really wanted, and which goes with the character, but also to ensure gravity, greater depth, and what I like to call first-degree emotions could be accommodated in this story of love and desire. But I didn’t want to make it too heavy by dwelling on potentially painful aspects of Anaïs’ life, like her mother’s illness, for example, or her abortion, because she’s the type of character whose natural tendency is always to be in action, in motion, rather than stopping to think, otherwise she’d crumble. I also wanted to bring all these registers and tones together because that’s what happens in my life: in a fraction of a second, you can go from laughing to crying. I was interested in conveying the complexity of life rather than backing myself into one particular genre or tone.
(Translated from French)
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