Florin Piersic Jr • Director of Nothing About Love
“I feel like the director’s mission is to make emotions arise”
- The Romanian filmmaker talks about the lengthy creative process behind his third feature as well as the audience reactions he is hoping for
Apart from being a well-known face in Romania thanks to his acting in myriad theatre and film productions, Florin Piersic Jr is also a film director, with several short and feature-length titles to his credit. His third feature, Nothing About Love [+see also:
interview: Florin Piersic Jr
film profile], which has celebrated its world premiere at the Transilvania International Film Festival, opts for a spicy way to zoom in on the complex relationship between two couples while also tackling the issues of emotional detachment and shaky mutual trust.
Cineuropa: Where did the urge to make an emotionally provocative, erotic thriller come from?
Florin Piersic Jr: I wrote the script 15 years ago, over literally two nights in a peaceful and quiet place, so after so much time, it is already difficult to elaborate on my thoughts and genuine motives from back then. What I know for sure is that the trigger was a certain person who was the basis for the main character, Gaby, the bad guy played by me. Upon encountering him, I was mesmerised by his arrogance and his questionable sense of humour. We shot the film several years later, in 2015, and we are releasing it only now owing to production issues. I was also looking for a suitable composer, which took me two years.
It seems that the film went through a long creative process. What changed over that time period?
I remember that I wanted to experiment with the form by introducing a split screen and using different cameramen for the phone calls, for example. I was younger then, and thus more eager to try new things, but later, during the shooting period, I gave up on the idea. Also, I think that the world has changed quite a lot over these last few years since we shot the film. Gaby’s jokes are difficult to accept today, as some of them might be perceived as sexual harassment. Not that I agree with his arrogant behaviour – I am actually the shy type. The irony is that I actually wanted to play the other guy, but throughout the rehearsals with the actors, the producer had the idea that I would play the main role and direct at the same time. Initially, I was planning to only be in front of the camera, not behind it as well.
What were the circumstances surrounding your meeting with the person that Gaby is based on?
We were at a gathering, and of course, he was the soul of the party, with his bad jokes and stories of womanising, and therefore everyone’s gaze was upon him. He is a typical alpha-male character, and I was observing him in order to fathom his personality and to come up with a collective character later on. I was aiming to portray those men who perceive their sexual encounters as conquests and who are straightforward with women, to the point of being brutal. I wanted to explore this kind of charisma that actually works with women. Also, I wanted the viewers to like him and hate him simultaneously.
Charm and danger are very much interrelated in his character, and from today’s perspective, it represents so-called toxic masculinity.
The #MeToo movement and its discourse have not been absorbed by Romanian society yet, and I am not sure they will be any time soon. The same applies to political correctness, so I don’t think Nothing About Love should encounter a problem with this in Romania.
The juicy dialogue is the core of the film. Could you share how you worked on this aspect?
The plot is more like a stage play, not a typical script. As I said, I wrote it holus-bolus, and I hope it works. Actually, I have already been told by friends who have seen the film beforehand that the opening restaurant scene felt like 20 minutes, when it’s actually half an hour long. That’s good because it means they didn’t look at their watches. I also think the chemistry between the actors works, and that’s important.
What influenced you when coming up with the aesthetics and when building up the mise-en-scène?
I try not to copy other films, but I was maybe thinking of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia and the way the music has an impact on one’s perception of the movie. There’s this trend in Romania to make realistic movies in which music is not used, so that they are closer to real life and avoid manipulating the viewer. However, I don’t embrace that concept. I feel like the director’s mission is to make emotions arise. I am also trying to access different audience profiles and to prompt similar reactions in them.
The ending is quite unexpected. Do you think that people with such a wild nature as Gabi could be “tamed”?
I won’t say too much about that, since it would be a spoiler, but I believe that anyone who sees the movie and enjoys it can come to their own conclusion about how each of the couples develops after what we have seen on screen.
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