The filmmakers look back on the adventure of their very first experience in the genre with Tralala
Has the urge to stage a musical torment you for a long time?
Jean Marie Larrieu: Yes, for a long time. In A man, a real man, we had tried it a bit but hiding behind the character played by Mathieu (Amalric).
Arnaud Larrieu: We said to ourselves that we would pass the milestone one day, some friends urged us on. And it was the meeting with producer Kevin Chneiweiss that started everything, when he came to tell us his desire to work with us. It was through conversations with him that the idea of this musical came to light.
What were the first bases?
JML: We knew for a long time that if we started, it would be with Philippe Katherine that we have known since A man, a real man. We also knew that his action would take place in Lourdes. It is our Cherbourg, our Rochefort to us! Our desire also to pay tribute to the province, to these cities that are both kitsch and have a history.
How does Philippe Katherine react to this project?
JML: We made an appointment with him without having written anything. We just tell him about the plot we have in mind: a celestial tramp who would go to Lourdes to seek a young woman who had appeared in his life as an apparition and who, on the spot, would be taken for another, an idea that had read at Jim Harrison’s to whom this story had happened.
AL : And Philippe’s immediate enthusiasm pushes us to get started.
JML : We then develop the story by telling ourselves that Philippe would write the songs later. But he will give us less and less news because he is preparing his album Confessions. So quite quickly, the idea of the diversity of composers within this history was born with us. That each character has his own and his own style of music. But as we have no contact with the world of music, we gradually began to write the songs ourselves. And we were right to take matters in hand! Because after the success – phenomenon of Confessions, Philippe told us he didn’t really feel it anymore. And we understood that very well. First, because it required colossal work. Then because Philippe has a very clear relationship with cinema: he does it to be on vacation on his own. But he saw too much in Tralala a kind of mirror. But he still agreed to compose the songs of Tralala.
TRALALA: A FILM MIRACLE [CRITIQUE]
How did the casting of the other singers come about?
AL : To begin with, we wanted someone to oversee these different singers. Elise Lügern, our music supervisor, told us about Renaud (Letang), whose work we loved on… the latest Katherine. He drew up lists of singers for us that could be of interest and who would be able to work quickly, on time. He quickly became a kind of consultant before gradually taking over the musical direction of the film.
JML: We had a playlist that accompanied the script with songs we liked. Very varied genres, ranging from Brazilian music to minimalist electro through variety and rap. This sequence of musical emotions followed the narrative unfolding of the film and could give everyone a source of inspiration. It became the reference for everyone, Renaud as the singers, to whom it was transmitted.
AL : Maiwenn spontaneously suggested Etienne Daho because they got along well. For Mélanie Thierry, Jeanne Cherhal quickly imposed itself. She knew how to soften our too theoretical remarks on love and women by putting it herself as when she wrote “40 years, the best age for a woman, I think”. All the singers responded fairly quickly and each in their own way. Dominique A told us all immediately of his enthusiasm and then we had no news for three and a half months! We contacted him again to tell him on a Saturday morning that the deadline was approaching. And six hours later, he sent us the song!
JML : As for Philippe, as there again we saw nothing coming, we were naughty, certifying him that Tralala hardly sang any more, that he just had to find the melodies of the only one he would perform. And we sent him the text which was actually… a copy and paste of the equivalent of 17 songs! (laughs) And in two weekends, three weeks before the shoot, the so-called flippant one sent us a burst of messages. He had recorded everything on an Iphone with a guitar, that of his mother-in-law found in an attic. The result exceeded our expectations.
AL : And the recording sessions with Renaud Létang at Ferber studios were incredible. They took place before the shooting …
JML :… To reassure everyone by leaving the possibility of singing in playback on the set. But everything that was done on set was recorded live. In the end… we never launched a playback!
Who says musical comedy also says dance …
AL : We called on Mathilde Monnier. We chose her because, as she had done with Katherine, she is used to making people dance who in theory are not dancers at heart. Our musical was based on that idea, not on big, twirling choreographies. Except in the nightclub, the scene where it was necessary to keep the promise implied by the genre and which mixes several musical genres. On screen, it is 17 minutes long and we took 5 days to shoot it where we directed the actors while discovering Mathilde’s choreographies because she had to wait for the music to work and everything happened at the last moment. . She took up a hell of a challenge.
What changed in your directing when you first encountered a musical?
JML : Not much. For example, like the rest of our films, the action takes place in 3 days. The story of Tralala only lasted 3 days anyway, the time we discover that it is not what we think
AL Our goal here was to show the intrusion of the musical into the lives of the characters. Tralala is not a genre film but a film where the genre takes hold of people.