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David Lambert • Regista di Les Tortues

“Volevo lavorare con i mostri sacri, fa parte del DNA del film”

di 

- Intervista al cineasta belga sul suo quarto lungometraggio, in cui continua a esplorare la vita quotidiana degli uomini queer, in uscita in Francia e Belgio

David Lambert • Regista di Les Tortues

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

We met with Belgian filmmaker David Lambert to chat about his fourth feature, Turtles [+leggi anche:
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, which is a surprising comedy of remarriage starring Olivier Gourmet and Dave Johns, which sees him continuing his exploration of the daily lives of queer men and which is released in France on Wednesday 15 May via Outplay Films and in Belgium via O’Brother.

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Cineuropa: Who are these “turtles”, in a few words?
David Lambert:
They’re an elderly male couple composed of former police officer Henri and junk dealer and former Queen of the Night Tom. They’ve been married for 15 years, together for 35, and at the beginning of the film they’re experiencing a relationship crisis just as Henri’s retiring.

What kind of film did you envisage making and why did you want to tell this story?
It’s a real romantic comedy, with a potential divorce in the offing, which could just as easily herald a recovery or return of love than its irreparable end. With some moments which I hope are really funny and others which are more dramatic, which everyone can identify with: how do you make a relationship last, how do you overcome obstacles? Should you live together? Will we die together? I wanted to tell this story because I’ve never seen a long-term relationship between men in a film. The passing of time is something I’ve only seen for heterosexual couples.

Your choice of actors is significant… They’re both actors who carry a little part of film history within them.
Obviously, I knew Olivier Gourmet from his roles in the Dardenne brothers’ films, and from his many other works. As for Dave Johns, I thought he was extraordinary in I, Daniel Blake [+leggi anche:
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by Ken Loach. I wanted to work with giants, it’s in the film’s DNA. It’s obviously a queer film, but I thought it would be interesting to seek out actors who didn’t belong to this film world, to bring them into my universe. I’m a big believer in transversality, in building bridges and sharing. I met them many times, individually, before filming, but clearly it was a couple I wanted. So I was a bit nervous before they first met, the right chemistry was essential! And in the end, I thought they were magic together.

The characters are set apart by their professions.
Yes, there’s an incompatibility between the police officer and the slightly bohemian junk dealer. When Henri met Tom 35 years ago, he still had to prosecute gay people, whereas today, he manages complaints over homophobia. Tom gave up his career out of love. He’s going to need to re-appropriate his desires and his identity.

They’re also two men who are familiar with the gay community’s recent struggles.
I really wanted to walk about the historicity of queer life. They carry different layers of this history within them. During screenings, I meet viewers who have been incredibly touched to find themselves represented in a fiction film which explores who they are in 2024 as well as who they might have been 30 years ago. It’s incredibly important, because we see lots of films with gay couples where the characters are very young and highly sexualised. In my film, I was determined to do the opposite and to speak about our history, using those two bodies.

What were your references?
Obviously I’m heavily influenced by comedies of remarriage, in particular Madame porte la culotte by Georges Cukor. And on the more dramatic side, Le Chat by Pierre Granier-Deferre. And obviously there’s also The War of the Roses by Danny DeVito.

How does the film fit into your filmography, which seems to want to write new queer masculinities?
I feel it’s as if the characters from my first film, Beyond the Walls [+leggi anche:
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, had got back together and grown old together, in terms of their relationship with humour, how they see themselves, and their complementarity. I think that queer masculinities are still very underrepresented or badly represented, by writers who aren’t always all that accurate. It’s a difficult job, in terms of the writing, producing or broadcasting of these stories. I try to stay true to myself, and to explore love with queer characters. From my very first film, people would say to me: "Yes, but it’s about queer or gay love", and I would always say: "No, it’s about love. With queer characters". The exploration of love is a universal thing.

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(Tradotto dal francese)

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