Christophe Honoré: “I tried to be faithful to my emotions and to the love language of the 90s”

Meeting with the director of Plaire, J’aime et Running Quick, as well as his actors Vincent Lacoste and Pierre Deladonchamp.

This evening, the small screen multiplies the first broadcasts in clear: while M6 will offer Bohemian rhapsody, Arte and CStar will unveil two works that marked the 2018 Cannes Film Festival: Please, love and run fast, and The world is yours. First had met the team of the first as part of the festivities, so we are reposting this interview to wait until 8:55 pm.

Interview of May 10, 2018: 120 beats per minute, the ghosts of the 90s, Louis Garrel and Truffaut…. The director of Please, love and run fast surrounded by his two actors Vincent Lacoste and Pierre Deladonchamp, confides in his love story against a background of AIDS which, more than 10 years after Les Chansons d’amour, marks his comeback in competition.

By Gaël Golhen

Christophe, we have the impression that this film marks a return to introspection.
Christophe Honoré: I don’t know… When you write a screenplay you try to be as close as possible to your emotions. I am wary of overly fabricated emotions that don’t belong to me. In this film, I tried to be faithful to my memory, to give an account of the 90s, of the love language so particular of those years. And that’s how I built this fiction. But from the moment you turn with actors, the romantic rushes in. Even if you have been very intimate, they are the ones who take hold of the characters and take them elsewhere.

After a few experimental detours, very formalistic, To please, love and run quickly also looks like a return to the romantic.
Christophe Honoré: My two previous films were fables from very different writers. I tried to offer a particular reading of these two works. Hence the formalistic side you want to talk about… But I don’t have the impression of having left the playing field. It is mainly based on characters and on a particular way of telling a love story – the two heroes are often separated. What I liked about the distance is that my two protagonists are constantly assailed with other love stories, sex stories. I didn’t want love at first sight, I didn’t want the film to be about a couple, but to be told by lots of other characters. In short, to answer the question, it is a mix between the romantic and the challenges of new staging.

Pierre, Vincent, Christophe had given you precise indications to play these characters?
Pierre Deladonchamp: I didn’t feel like I was bombarded with references, no. And fortunately. I relied entirely on Christophe in fact. I knew my line, but I didn’t know what the day was going to be like. And I surprised myself during the shooting as much as Christophe surprised me. It was always very inventive, very pleasant.

Vincent Lacoste: Me, I was born the year the film takes place. So I don’t know much of that time except my cradle. But Christophe gave me a book to read, Beauty lines – it’s very nice, especially the beginning (laughs). Two films also, Happy Together and My Own Private Idaho. And perfumes that we had to wear on set. A Cacharel for me …

Christophe Honoré: You should have kept this perfume story a secret… I’m going to have to justify myself now.

Pierre Deladonchamp: But no, it’s great, it’s romantic.

This “olfactory preparation” is unusual.
Christophe Honoré:
it is less an olfactory preparation than a sensual conditioning. It is complicated to direct actors. The question of power is played out there. Often, the director takes power over his actors. I don’t work like that – or I’m more vicious than that. I like that the actors have the power at some point in the film. These perfume stories are two perfumes that I have worn at different ages in my life. And I told myself that these perfumes were going to cause accidental memories. As I approached them, I told myself that it would remind me of moments in my life and that I would be faithful to these impressions, to these emotions. My role was to bring Pierre and Vincent to my land and let them do what they wanted. To let them free

Louis Garrel had to play your role did that …
Pierre Deladonchamp:
…Who is that ?

Christophe Honoré: Very good valve, Pierre!

Pierre Deladonchamp: Stopped ! (looking at us) Will have to cut it eh….

Did that impact the film?
Christophe Honoré:
Many filmmakers write with actors in mind. Sometimes we know them well and we think they will follow us, sometimes we know them less well and they say no to you as soon as you read the script. When that happens, it’s always unsettling for a director, because you have to reinvent the film. But it can also be luck. Considering the relationship I had with Louis, it hurt me a bit. But when Pierre arrived, he brought his optimism and his fervor carried me along. He became the driving force behind the film in a truly unexpected way. During the shooting, it is always good that the scenario burns itself out, is consumed; it allows not to stick to what we have in mind but to reinvent another story. There it was. We had no choice but to be present on the shoot.

Pierre Deladonchamp: I made this joke earlier because there was the ghost of Louis at the start of filming. Until I decide to get rid of it. I arrived like a dog in a bowling game. When I heard that Christophe was making this film with Louis and Vincent, I was envious.

Louis Garrel is not the only specter of the film… There are many others including the figures of your literary and film pantheon. And in particular Truffaut. What relationship do you have with him?
Christophe Honoré:
My relationship with Truffaut becomes more and more important over time. He is one of the French filmmakers who have always inspired me, but with age, arriving at the tenth film, the way in which he has organized his career seems exemplary to me. His films respond to each other, he never lets go, he is very stubborn about his desire for cinema – which is very particular, very strong – and at the same time his films breathe freely in completely different fields. He never shied away from the first person narrative. He even made that fruitful in the romantic and in the fiction. He is a capital filmmaker who supports me a lot. As for the writers, there is Guibert, Koltes and especially Lagarce whom I knew very very little. In the 90s, his writings were not published. His diary which infused many sequences of the film.

Impossible here, in Cannes, not to think of 120 Beats per minute.
Christophe Honoré:
I started writing the film without being aware of Robin Campillo’s project. I saw his film after the cut. I think AIDS is too absent from cinema screens. There is a huge lack of films in relation to the importance of this disease on people of my generation. It’s a disease surprisingly absent from the stories… Suddenly, these two films seem to resemble each other from a distance, but the cinematographic project as the story are very opposed. But to be honest, it annoys me a bit that we are trying to bring these two films together just because there are homosexuals. We don’t say to Assayas “ah you’re unlucky, Desplechin has made a heterosexual story like you again”. Are we still there? These shortcuts linked to the gender identity of the characters? Seriously!

It’s more than that. The films seem to have a dialogue around AIDS from the 90s.
Christophe Honoré:
But could link it to Mektoub My Love! which takes place in the 90s. It’s not very surprising that a new generation of filmmakers want to film their youthful years. Our films are not rivals. And fortunately Thierry Frémaux did not have this reasoning there because otherwise, he would have told us: “I love the film, but I am not going to take it because they look too similar”

It’s true, yet their Cannes selection gives a certain resonance to the film. For example, when the character of Pierre explains that his lover must not go to an Act-Up meeting, we necessarily think of 120 BPM …
Christophe Honoré:
I did not censor this sentence, nor the response of the character of Podalydes who against it. That is what is interesting. We must not believe after the fact that there was solidarity in the fight against AIDS. Act-up was very vehement against Guibert or Collard, who they accused of playing romantics, of embodying bad figures of AIDS. But I say this while being very clear: I have always refused to make films to speak for others, a community or a group. I make very personal films and speak on behalf of others, I find that dangerous. It doesn’t really match my cinema.

Cannes day 3: To please, to love and to run fast, On your knees guys, meeting with Ryan Coogler…

To follow the highlights of the festival, until May 19, visit our special Cannes 2018 file, as well as in the kiosks.

Contents of the last issue of Première: Penélope Cruz, 2001

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