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CANNES 2023 Cannes Première

Katell Quillévéré • Director of Along Came Love

"I wanted to break the aesthetic codes of melodrama"


- CANNES 2023: The director explains her approach to a 20-year period film in post-war France telling an atypical love story

Katell Quillévéré  • Director of Along Came Love

French director Katell Quillévéré explains her film Along Came Love [+see also:
film review
interview: Katell Quillévéré
film profile
, presented in the Cannes Première section at the 76th Cannes Film Festival.

Cineuropa: Along Came Love is a melodrama, a genre you are very fond of.  Why? And why focus this time the story of the complex love of Madeleine and François?
Katell Quillévéré: There is a biographical starting point. My own grandmother had an affair with a German soldier during the Occupation, became pregnant and was left as a single mother. She met my grandfather four years later on a beach in Brittany, as in the film. He was from a higher social background and they kept the secret of this fatherhood all their lives. So that story had been with me for a long time and was a really strong inspiration, but beyond that starting point, everything else in the film is totally fictionalized, away from my family history. We invented and wrote this story with Gilles Taurand and it turns out that melodrama is a genre we both love. I have a passion for the films of Douglas Sirk, James L Brooks and Todd Haynes. I have a love for the romantic story, a genre that is not very well exploited in French cinema and that I had begun to explore with Suzanne [+see also:
film review
interview: Katell Quillévéré
film profile
. Melodrama touches me because it is a genre that has a very strong relationship with emotion. That is what I am looking for above all in cinema.

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It is a period film. What constraints did this imply? And how did you manage to transcend the period?
We are in the register of an auteur film, with demanding themes and an intimate film, but at the same time ample and ambitious, and therefore in need of financing. The budget was around 7 million euros, which is a lot for an auteur film, but not much for a period film over 20 years. So the challenge was: how can I not give up my ambitions with this budget, so that the film is as romantic and as beautiful as possible within this constraint? This was a very big reflection during the making of the film and one of the ways to get out of this problem was to break the aesthetic codes of melodrama, which is a genre that usually requires a huge budget, with a great deal of machinery, sophisticated movements, use of the studio for the reconstruction, etc.

Once this enormous work was done, the challenge was that I could believe at every moment that we were today when I was filming, so that its themes, which are extremely modern problems, would also be revealed. It's a film that deals with questions about couples, families and society that must resonate today. Its modernity is also in the sex scenes, which play a very important role and which were a way of moving away from classicism.

The character of Madeleine is very ambivalent in a way that female characters in cinema rarely are, which is daring.
It was a challenge from the writing stage because at the financing stage, people were very disturbed by the harshness of this woman. I always defended my point of view: throughout the film, there is no kiss, no physical contact between Madeleine and her child. I wanted to do this because I knew that the more this love is prevented, the more emotionally charged the end of the film would be when this love manages to come out. But I also knew that there was a stake of empathy with the spectator that should not be missed, because we must still want to follow Madeleine, even if she provokes ambivalent feelings. The film tells how you can be prevented from loving your child because it brings back shame. But what also fascinated me was Madeleine's modernity, her drive for life.

Through this couple, you evoke the weight of social conventions, the lack of individual freedom and possibilities to be who you want to be and to love who you want to love.
This very atypical couple leads us to questions that are very current. What is a couple in reality? And what does it mean to be homosexual because we tend to say that it is only loving men, but the spectrum of sociality is much wider? François is a gay man who can love women, but probably his truest place of enjoyment is with men. The film also explores sexuality and parenthood: you can be a woman and miss your maternal instinct, you can be a great father without being a biological father, sexual orientation has nothing to do with education.

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(Translated from French by Margaux Comte)

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