Patrice Leconte • Director
The treasure of friendship
My Best Friend [+see also:
film profile] will be released in France on December 20 and – for the first time ever for a French title – in Italy beforehand, on December 6; first on 50 screens (distributed by Lucky Red) then on 100 right before Christmas. "Italian audiences have a huge responsibility now," joked the director at the film’s screening in Rome. "If my morale is low when the film comes out in France, it will be your fault!".
Cineuropa: Intimate Strangers, The Man on the Train , The Girl on the Bridge... With this new film you once again tell the story of an encounter between two people.
Patrice Leconte: Someone pointed out to the me that, in almost all of my films, the characters who become a “couple” meet for the first time during the film... I like organising the meeting between the characters that I present in my films because, ultimately, in this way, all you need to do is observe their behaviour. If they’ve been described well, all there is to do is follow them.
My Best Friend is the story of an encounter between a successful antique dealer (Daniel Auteuil) and a taxi driver (Dany Boon), after a birthday dinner at which the former cannot name a single friend to his business partner, who bets him that he cannot find a true friend in a short period of time.
Friendship has never been the main theme of one of my films. When I read the treatment, I immediately thought that it was very original to bet on something so “unbettable”... It furthermore allowed me to speak of friendship and, above all, of its absence. Ultimately, it’s like telling a love story: you just have to change the names."
It allows you, through comedy, to speak of a deep emotion. In an era in which people think that even friendship can be bought.
My dream has always been to speak with a certain lightness of important things that touch everyone. Friendship is fundamental: to have true friends, you must take an interest in others and this requires time. Today, when everything moves so quickly, we’re no longer capable of doing so. Today, almost everything is for sale, it’s true, even love at times. But true friendship must be entirely selfless."
Is Daniel Auteuil, who has worked with you before, also a friend of yours?
Relationships are strange in the cinema: you work with someone and see each other every day for two months then perhaps won’t speak for a long time. I immediately thought of Daniel to play Francois because I liked the idea of someone like him – open, sociable, always available for others – playing a man who is unable to establish a true contact with anyone.
Is it true that you’re going to stop directing?
Yes. It’s not a whim. Filmmaking is formidable work, which I do with great enthusiasm and energy. But I don’t want to risk becoming an old director who continues making films without any conviction. I want to stop before that happens. I’ve already decided what my next three films will be: I’ll shoot the next one, Noël au balcon, in the spring and it will be a rather unique Christmas story, from a screenplay by Didier Tronchet. Then I’m working on Paul Auster’s adaptation of Monsieur Hire, to make in the US. It’s not a remake. Lastly, I’ll go back to working with the screenwriter of The Girl on the Bridge, Serge Frydman. This film will also star Vanessa Paradis.
What will you do afterwards?
I’m certainly not going to sit around in my slippers. I’ll write for others, I’ll direct documentaries, for the theatre. Of course, when I say this to people who know me, no one believes me…
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