His energy and his playfulness blow with happiness on this very attractive first feature film, presented at the Semaine de la Critique. Meet
In 2019, Anaïs Demoustier camped in Pauline enslaved – Charline Bourgeois-Taquet’s short film presented at Critics’ Week – a young woman obsessed with love, on the verge of a nervous breakdown while waiting for a text from her married lover. Two years later, here she is in the title role of Anaïs loves, the first feature by the same director who has once again been honored at Critics’ Week. A lover as passionate as she is obsessive whose heart races in turn for a publisher and then for his wife. And in this invigorating and playful journey on the Tendre menu, Anaïs Demoustier offers a spirited, mischievous composition which gives a crazy charm to this story.
How did you meet Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet?
Anaïs Demoustier: Three years ago, thanks to my brother Stéphane who produced his short Pauline enslaved. Charline immediately told her that she would like to offer me the title role but that she didn’t dare call me because she didn’t know if I was still shooting short films. And my brother who knows me well told him not to hesitate because he was sure that I would love it. And he was right!
What exactly did you like about his screenplay?
I immediately felt close to this character of Pauline whose Anaïs from the feature film is in a way the extension. But especially this short then the long allowed me to work on things that I had not yet worked on in the cinema: a speed, a liveliness, a character at this physical point. And this while exploring this paradoxical contradiction existing in these two young women who think a lot with a great capacity for analysis but find themselves totally overwhelmed by their emotions. Characters both hyper-cerebral and totally instinctive Anaïs – like Pauline – is a lover in the most violent sense of the word, with a permanent thirst for the absolute. And all this is brilliantly served by the quality and the dialogues of Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet. She is a real author with a singular language.
This energy of which you speak is also exhausting for those who rub shoulders with it in the film – and moreover point it out to him – but also for the spectator. How do you play a character who can quickly come across as unbearable?
It was probably the most difficult for me here. I definitely wanted to make her nice, but in that case, I would have lost the role. I quickly concluded that the best way to be able to embody this Anaïs without judging her, was to understand her, her and her strange neuroses. I think of that scene where she brushes aside the issue of abortion almost laughing, a reaction that expresses a way of defending herself. Anaïs is one of those people who popularize the drama because they cannot open that door and do not want their interlocutors to dig into these subjects. All of this can make her brutal. But I find a handsome frank person who never calculates (except for crappy calculations) and doesn’t have an ounce of cynicism and irony in her. And I love that she never feels intimidated by her own desire and knows how to express it
When did Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet start talking to you about long?
Very soon after the short, she told me that she was writing a feature film in the same vein. And I had the chance to be able to exchange with her during the writing, in a new place for me, where I encouraged her not to lose the comedy inside the love story that she wanted to develop. I wanted her to keep the tornado side of the character and Charline did it superbly by creating a magnificent journey to Anaïs, between the first very energetic moments of the film and those moments when she will find herself overwhelmed by her love at first sight for the character played by Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi who reveals in her a depth, a certain gravity that she tried to hide …
Is it easy to accompany a character from short to long like this, even if he’s not exactly the same?
This is again unprecedented work for me. But even more than the correspondences between these two characters, it is the correspondences between them two and me that I found crazy. I can no longer count the number of sentences they utter that I could have spontaneously said. I feel a familiarity with what they are, their energy, their flow of words. This Anaïs is really very close to me by her energy and Charline paints a bit of a portrait of me through her.
What characterizes Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet in your eyes?
His way of filming which consists in extremely constraining the actors. Everything is very choreographed. There is no room for any improvisation both in the text and in the movements. Everything is under control. I know some comedians hate it. But this profession fascinates me precisely because it confronts me with directors with different methods each time and in which I will succeed, as here, in finding a lot of freedom.