The Unknown Girl, the pretty film by the Dardenne brothers, will be broadcast tonight on Arte.
In The Unknown Girl, she looks a little sullen that characterizes her usual roles. Then, her character of withdrawn doctor gradually opens up to the world as her investigation of a murdered young woman advances. Adele Haenel play this Jenny wonderfully, “guilty” not to have opened her office to the victim whose memory she will try to rehabilitate at the cost of a significant personal investment. A pure Dardennian role. We had met the actress to discuss it during the presentation of the film in Cannes, in 2016. Flashback.
Our review of The Unknown Girl
Before working for them, did you think you were Dardenno-compatible?
To be honest, I didn’t think we lived in the same world (laughs).
But was it a cinema that spoke to you?
It is a cinema that constituted me as a spectator. It populated my imagination. When we think of auteur film, we think of Dardenne.
How did you get in touch?
We met at a somewhat official party where we exchanged three words. Three months later, they called me back.
Was this Jenny easy to “find”?
Not really. Reading the script, I told myself that we had to play a character as down to earth as possible. I wanted to do a minimum, to be in restraint knowing that the Dardenne like to observe how life passes through people. It is an uncontrollable force, life.
The Dardennes tell a lot about their characters through action. We see a lot Jenny auscultating, diagnosing. Is it comfortable for an actor?
I wouldn’t say comfortable. You still have to be precise to be credible. Suddenly, it can get stressful.
These gestures, we imagine that you learned them?
I rehearsed for a month with a doctor. I saw with him roughly where the organs were so I was aware of what I was doing when Jenny was examining.
Two days, one night: Marion Cotillard and the muses of the Dardenne brothers
Jenny is kind of a confessor. She has a fairly Christian background, to put it simply. Do you see her like that?
I don’t have the impression that she goes out to meet people to save herself. Rather, she is on a quest. The movie also doesn’t say at the end that the sins are washed away.
She still loves the need in people to confide in her?
She believes that in everyone there is a sleeping consciousness. It doesn’t have to be in a religious sense.
The gift of oneself, the listening, it is Christian in the spirit.
Yeah yeah (she sighs).
The role seems to mark a milestone in your career. He is more peaceful, more returned. Did you want to go to that?
The nervousness is in me, but there are many ways to be angry. It can be constructive, too. I like this development.
Actors say they are inhabited by their roles, others move on very quickly. Where are you located?
The roles correspond to issues that interfere in our lives and which necessarily affect us a little. This awakening of consciousness that characterizes Jenny is something that I was already thinking a little about and that the role brought to life.
You mean it’s no coincidence that you go for roles or if roles come to you?
The state in which we are at a given moment, our availability interfere with the choice of roles, that’s obvious.
Almost half of your films have been shown in Cannes. What relationship do you have with the festival?
I would say it’s more three-quarters … This year, I live it in a less violent way, telling myself that coming to Cannes is also a game. I agree to play a role. It is important that there is also fantasy around the cinema. All this is not very rational.
Have you been disappointed thatOrphan d’Arnaud des Pallières is not selected?
I saw the movie last week, which I find beautiful. I was obviously disappointed, but the important thing is that it was successful.
What is it about ?
It tells the story of a young woman over four periods, each period being played by a different actress. It’s a film about relationships between men and women, about violence, about identity.
Between The Ogres, The Unknown Girl, Orphan, it’s a big year.
I was really lucky, it’s true.
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