Eric Gravel • Director of Full Time
“Laure Calamy has the rare capacity to express drama and comedy at the same time”
by Teresa Vena
- VENICE 2021: The new movie from the filmmaker has as a protagonist an ambitious woman trying to combine family and work
France-based Canadian director Eric Gravel presented Full Time [+see also:
interview: Eric Gravel
film profile] in the Orizzonti section at this year's Venice Film Festival, an impressive and intense portrait of a strong woman sacrificing herself for her children, but still having the ambition to succeed in her profession. We talked to the director about his inspiration for the film and how he developed the character of his protagonist.
Cineuropa: Where did the inspiration for the story come from?
Eric Gravel: For a long time I lived in cities. First in Montréal, and then in Paris. After a few years in Paris, I moved to the countryside, not very far from the capital. I knew I would not need to go to the city very often and the cost of living is much inferior here. More and more people live outside cities. But when I then went to Paris, I saw that a lot of people from my village are commuters, going back and forth everyday. When everything works fine it's ok to do so, but one little annoyance can cause massive distress. I wanted to show what that can be like, since I have the impression that we don’t often talk about this phenomena, even if it's a reality for a lot of people and it's important to know about it. The trains from the outskirts to the cities are full.
Already in your previous film you were interested in women and their relationship to work.
You could say that all that is related to the working segment is somehow an obsession for me. I am interested in the dynamics between humans and their work. My father, who struggled all his life as a labourer, was an important source of inspiration. I have the impression the middle class is getting smaller. That we have the bourgeoisie and then the poor, but in between, there aren’t many people left. Still the working class, where the majority of the people live, is not often represented at the cinema.
How did you develop the main character?
I wanted to show the relationship of this super-mom with her work. She thinks she is able to do it all, the children and the work. Where is her private life? Isn't it identical to her working life?
When was it clear that Julie would be played by Laure Calamy?
Actually, she imposed herself quite quickly. She has the rare capacity to express drama and comedy at the same time. I mostly knew her from her dramatic roles, but I like how she can put humour in the drama. She is a very talented actress, she gives to the character of Julie something hard, but also some tenderness. I wanted to see these two aspects in her.
The past of the character is not as important as her present.
I wanted to face her without prejudice, I didn't want her to be judged for things she might have done in the past. The present was important, without giving a background to her actual situation. We don't need to know more about her than what we see. She is different with different persons. Observing that, we get an overall picture of her character and this is what I was interested in showing, since this fact of having different faces applies to all of us.
It is a very hard situation for Julie, but actually, there is no real specific reason for it.
I didn't want to have a clear antagonist. I like the grey zones. I wanted to talk about this woman in this moment, when all the problems are accumulated. It is an intense moment, made of a lot of banalities, that make it a state of emergency. I also like the idea of mirroring problems and situations. Julie's boss also has problems, there are parallels between the women, and the same thing goes for the older woman taking care of Julie's children. I like the idea that they all are actually the same woman but at different times in their lives.
How did you develop the visual aspect of the film?
I used nearly all available techniques, from handheld-camera to steady-cam. The images had to adapt to the emotions of the protagonist. When she is unsure, then more handheld-camera, and when she is at work and sure of her abilities, the camera is more fluid. The same goes for the music which also adapts to her emotions.
Was the ending always planned this way? Did you consider going more dramatic?
I see it as an open ending and in my opinion, it's not really a happy one. It may represent a relief, but it also raises a lot of new questions.
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