Delphine Deloget • Director of All To Play For
"What happens when society comes to judge our intimacy?”
- CANNES 2023: The French filmmaker recounts the genesis of her first feature film, which follows a mother who is suddenly deprived of her youngest child
Coming from a documentary background, Delphine Deloget directs her first fiction feature, All To Play For [+see also:
interview: Delphine Deloget
film profile], screened in the 76th Un Certain Regard programme at the Cannes Film Festival.
Cineuropa : Where did the idea for this film come from, centered on a mother caught in a spiral?
Delphine Deloget : Originally, the theme that interested me was what remains of the family love when everything has exploded? The story of the placement of the youngest son was going to reveal all these characters and I thought it was strong enough to also tell the story of how, in a family, we learn to live without each other, sometimes painfully, but sometimes it's necessary. As for the placement aspect, not because I come from a documentary background, I needed to anchor the film in these grey areas where it's very complicated because the institution comes into play. Some people, we don't really know what they've done, how we can judge them, in other words what happens when society comes to judge the intimate? What makes a good mother? I did a lot of research, met several families, a judge and lawyers, and I inevitably chose to look at where things go wrong. Child welfare (Aide Sociale à L'Enfance - ASE), fortunately exists, but it's also a system that can be quite cold. And more broadly, what happens when a society starts to get scared, when it doesn't know how to deal with the weaknesses of others and of intimacy? This can create the kind of situation we see in the film, and it's not as anecdotal as we think. In talking to families, parents have told me how they themselves slip up and become caricatures of themselves when their children are touched. And perhaps there are reasons for this. It's a grey area, and the point of any film, fiction or documentary, is to ask a few questions when it creates a bit of a mess.
What kind of woman did you want to portray in Sylvie, played by Virginie Efira?
I wanted to work on the character in all her complexity, so that she was neither a courageous mother, nor a victim, nor a totally unloving or toxic mother. I wanted to get away from those terms and create a portrait of this woman in this machine. It's not everyone, it's this woman. When you have a strong character, you want to impose something because that's the way you've built yourself, which you understand half-heartedly from your family and your love life. She's a woman of today and it's not extraordinary to be a single woman with two children in Brest. It was also a question of questioning the norm for a woman. I wanted to leave her love life out of it. On the other hand, I thought that her relationship with her family, her children, her work and her friends would be interesting and not necessarily often explored in cinema, where the focus is on women in love. So she's not in love, she's trying to fight and exist in her own life.
Did you also want to paint a portrait of a generation, these thirty-somethings and young forty-somethings from the provinces who are still party-goers, a bit turned towards their past and confronted with an unexciting present at work?
I really wanted to show these people in Brest. In a first film, you're working in a world that you've experienced first-hand, with people who aren't at all “under-cultivated” as we sometimes think, who aren't in social misery, but who are going through the transition to adulthood and the constraints of society and what's expected of us. This also corresponded somewhat to the theme of the film: what does it mean to belong to a society, to make a choice? There's no judgement here: it's just as courageous to say to yourself every morning, I'm going to get up and go to work like Alain's character, as it is to give up like his brother Hervé. These are fairly topical issues that I'm interested in. How does society decide that we are part of it? And that can quickly change. All this is embodied in Sylvie's family, with her older brother who seems more settled but whose flaws we can sense, and her younger brother who has given up trying to fit into the mould.
(Translated from French)
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