Maxime Roy • Director of The Heroics
"In the struggle that the character goes through, there is also a lot of humour, life and solidarity"
- On the eve of its French release, Maxime Roy talks about his very intense first feature film, much appreciated at Cannes, in a special screening of the Official Selection
Unveiled in a special screening of the Official Selection of the 74th Cannes Film Festival, The Heroics [+see also:
interview: Maxime Roy
film profile] is Maxime Roy's first feature film. This intense, very realistic and humane film about a man's deep torment and his faint hopes for redemption is released in French cinemas on 20 October by Pyramide.
Cineuropa: Where did the idea come from to make a fiction film about a character who is very close to reality?
Maxime Roy: François Créton, who plays the character of Michel, is my ex-father-in-law. I met him several years ago, with his very personal look, his language that I didn't really understand, his forty years of addiction, drugs, alcohol... One day, he told me about some video tapes that his father had given him as his only inheritance and that he had never dared to watch: facing the camera, his father who is fighting an illness talks to his son in private. We watched it together and I quickly understood that he had a rather harmful relationship with his father, quite violent, and that he had reacted to all this with drugs and alcohol from the age of 11. We then spent a lot of time together and I accompanied him to centres for addicts. Then a child arrived and Michel wanted to become a good guy, to stop everything. But after years of methadone, his body is a bit out of shape, he has aches and pains all over, insomnia, etc. There is a lot to re-learn. This struggle made me want to write this story with him.
You first shot the short film Beautiful Loser with him. Did the question of him playing the lead role in The Heroics arise?
For me, it was obvious from the start. He was the only one who could interpret it so that we could believe it because it is also the body that speaks. The short film was made almost like a casting test, to show that he was capable of playing as an actor a role that would be very much inspired by his story, but which is fictional, not his reality at all. Because it's all fake, but the feeling that the film goes through is totally real.
How did you approach the very difficult subject of addiction without falling into darkness?
When I first went to a meeting to share and fight against alcohol addiction, it was very warm with people helping each other a lot, laughing together, etc. The representation I had of that through cinema and the media was completely false. The image I had of it in cinema and the media was completely wrong. I don't know if I wanted to deal with difficult realities in a lighter way or to find something more colourful, but I went where it seemed most accurate. Because in the struggle that the character goes through, there is also a lot of humour, life and solidarity. It would have been totally wrong or opportunistic to treat it only from the hard side. The people who move me are quite alone, but they are fighting to stand up, in a rather silent struggle. I think we need to shine a light on them because no one else is doing it. In my eyes, it's a luminous film, very optimistic, which goes towards hope, which shows that everything can go well.
You shot it yourself. Why?
It's very difficult for me to anticipate a cut or how I'm going to shoot the scenes because I choose actors, sometimes non-professionals, who all have something of their intimacy to play. As I never know how everyone will interpret the situation from their own story, I want to be totally free to reinvent and this is quite inseparable from the fact that I frame the film because I don't know what will happen. I follow my own gaze, where the emotion draws me. So the film is watched by my eye as if I were seeing it in life. All of this is very instinctive in a more animalistic relationship to cinema, more in action with the actors with the feeling that the camera, in the middle of all this, does not exist.
What is your next project?
With François, we are working on a social comedy with the adaptation of the comic strip Ma révérence by Wilfrid Lupano, which tells the story of the friendship between a man in his thirties and a man in his sixties (who will be played by two slightly bigger actors) who will try to find solutions to give more meaning to their lives.
(Translated from French by Manuela Lazic)
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