Fabrice Du Welz: “With Poelvoorde, I give birth to the best of myself”

The Belgian director of Calvary and Alleluia takes stock of his career, on the occasion of the release of Inexorable, a chabrolian and poisonous thriller carried by Benoît Poelvoorde.

Inexorablea turning point

“As a director, I am the sum of all my experiences, happy and unhappy. I have made seven feature films, I am a slightly feverish, compulsive, passionate director, so when things don’t go like I would like it to happen, I can quickly slip in. I had a calamitous experience in France with Thomas Langmann (Colt 45, 2014), but everyone knows that. My American Adventure (message from the king, 2016) was also difficult, like for many directors, but it taught me a lot. Today, I am strong from all that, my craftsmanship is sharper. I am more mature, more capable. It turns out that in Belgium, with my partners, in a modest economy, that’s where I’m the best. I try to make personal films, which deploy a real sense of direction, where I am myself, without any duplicity. But my will, from now on, is also to try to open up my cinema a little to the public, to work on archetypes or conventions. While remaining very unique, and without being afraid of radicalism! The kind ofInexorable is very circumscribed, it is that of the home invasion, erotic thriller. I had ’90s American thriller references in mind, though my two real totems were Mortal sinby John M. Stahl, with the sublime Gene Tierney, and This is the time of the assassins, by Duvivier. The main thing was to build a real thriller. Install a tension, maintain it until the end, increase in power. Take the viewer by the throat and never let go.”

Poelvoorde, this genius

“Benoît Poelvoorde is someone I have known for a very long time, since I was 15. It was the time when I was doing amateur plays in Namur, with Cécile de France. We were kids and, via Rémy Belvaux (one of the directors of It happened close to you – editor’s note), I ran into Benoît in cafes. He was 25 years old and I already found him incredible, I was electrified by his personality. I projected a lot onto him because I see him as a kind of ideal, a big brother. So I always wanted to work with him. We had a first experience on Worship (2019), my previous film. It gave a scene that I find absolutely masterful, even if between us, it was sometimes tense. Today, we solved a lot of things. He is an actor and a man of total freedom, the equivalent of a Depardieu or a Michel Simon. On the set, we are both in a crazy energy. But they are very different energies, which magnetize each other. I always have the impression, when I succeed in a scene with Benoît, that I give birth to the best of myself. As if I had tamed the beast, mastered the chaos. I can be very technical, very methodical, very disciplined, and he is the complete opposite. He doesn’t really like technique, it stuffs him, but when you transcend that, when it takes hold, I’m the happiest director in the world. There is a tacit agreement between us: if I accept his way of being, he in return will give me everything.”

The movie after

“Today, I don’t plan to make a film without Benoît. It will happen, of course, but I am very attached to this collaboration. In the next one, Maldorora film-investigation on the Dutroux affair, he will play a more secondary role (inspired by Marc Dutroux himself – editor’s note). It will be a larger film thanInexorable, in terms of production and subject matter. Fuller first because it’s a period film. Recreating the 90s today is like recreating the 50s: there’s nothing left, you have to do it all again! I am tackling a very delicate subject in my country, through the investigation of a young policeman, played by Anthony Bajon, caught in the middle of a police war. The film speaks of the inertia and dysfunctions that marked this terrible affair. From France, we tend to think the Dutroux affair was a news item, but in reality, it was more than that: a real state affair. I’ve had the film in my head for fifteen years, it’s a very complex script, which I’ve worked on enormously and which has reached maturity. It’s almost the project of a lifetime. Why Maldoror ? In fact, I am inspired by a surveillance operation which had been set up by the Belgian gendarmerie and which was called Operation Othello. I’m renaming it Maldoror, echoing of course Lautréamont and to emphasize that the film will be a questioning of evil, of its unspeakable nature.”

Inexorableby Fabrice Du Welz, with Benoît Poelvoorde, Mélanie Doutey, Alba Gaïa Bellugi… Currently in theaters.

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