Belgium / Luxembourg / Switzerland
François Pirot • Director of Let’s Get Lost
"I wanted a main character who didn’t do anything, but who got other people moving instead"
- The Belgian director chatted to us about his second feature film, a polyphonic work about the call of nature and the return to a normal life
In his debut feature film Mobile Home [+see also:
film profile], François Pirot homed in on the friendship between two teenagers struggling with the frustrating transition to adulthood. In his second movie, Let’s Get Lost [+see also:
interview: François Pirot
film profile], which is released in Belgium on Wednesday via Cinéart, he once again focuses on characters in transition, who are inspired by the decompression chamber one of them invents for himself while hiding in the forest. The director spoke to us about the origins of his project and its guiding themes.
Cineuropa: How did this project come about?
François Pirot: I wanted to continue working with characters who are at a point in their lives where they need to redefine themselves. Jean-Claude Carrière writes that first films are often autobiographical in kind, whereas, in second films, we tend to focus on other people and not just ourselves. I’d also been really affected by reading Thoreau’s Walden: Or Life in the Woods. That need to go towards nature to find a balance is a part of my life too. I didn’t want to make a film about what it’s like living in a forest; I wanted it to be about the impulse, the desire we can feel for this. It was a more symbolic and metaphorical idea around the notion of leaving.
When Mathieu’s character moves deeper inside the forest, the picture changes, as if we’re crossing a frontier in our perception.
I realised very quickly that I wasn’t after an especially realistic depiction of the forest, it was the fairy tale aspect which interested me, using fiction to make people believe in an unlikely situation, of this good guy who leaves everything behind. I liked the idea of creating a frontier between the world he’s leaving behind, where other people are bustling about, and a slightly offbeat universe; of him going without transition from a kind of sleepwalking to being totally present in the world. We’re in a fantasy-style setting, the tone changes. The editing is more sober, the light warmer, the images more saturated, and the format tighter, which is better suited to the forest’s verticality. It also created more intimacy with the character, that 4/3 ratio. The film doesn’t say that the solution for the character is to go into the forest, it just suggests that he’ll need to go in there at some point. To be fully in the here and now.
The other characters venture into the forest and into Mathieu’s tale, until a certain point in the film when they manage, in the space of one scene, to make it their own.
I wanted there to be some sort of contamination process. For other people to project themselves onto Mathieu, and think about their own dissatisfactions. For them to feel soothed and able to let go, thanks to Mathieu. In terms of the narrative structure, it’s a bit like a musical fugue. There are five characters simultaneously playing a melody along the same theme, a theme initiated by Mathieu. Often, with fugues and polyphonic writing, things come together at the end, and I wanted there to be a final reunion here too, where they’re all brought together, as if contaminated by this wonderful dimension.
These are also characters who question themselves and tackle societal issues: what does it mean to be a man, a mother?
There’s a paradox here: they feel oppressed and want to experience something different, but their dreams are also linked to certain issues within our society. They’re subjected to social pressure too, which insists we should all be leading exceptional lives. It’s hard, these days, to accept that we might lead a relatively unexceptional life. A normal life, in short. It’s incredibly frightening, the idea that being normal means you’ve failed at life.
What was the biggest challenge you faced with this film?
I struggled for Mathieu to be accepted as a character who doesn’t do anything. People were determined Mathieu should do something in the forest, for him to have an aim, to build something. It says a lot about the times we’re living in, in my opinion. When it comes to series, we look for narrative threads everywhere. And in life too, we always have to be busy. I wanted a main character who didn’t do anything, but who got other people moving instead.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.