In this witty postmodern satire, Vincent Lindon and Alain Cavalier are pals. Like father and son. They sip port in bars dreaming of a film they might make. Together. Then just once in a while, they wear a suit and a tie. Play men of power. See how much trouble they can make. For a laugh. They tell a tall tale that is part personal, part, well – just plain tall. Only, as ever at the movies, there’s that excellent question no one can answer: is it really all make-believe?
Cast & Crew
Director : Alain Cavalier
Screenwriter : Alain Cavalier
Starring : Vincent Lindon, Alain Cavalier
Schedule & Presentation
Presentation by Festival Directors
Friday, March 30 – 2:30 p.m at the Byrd Theater ~ 1h45 ~ General Audience
Choose a picture to see the filmography (source : IMDB)
Last year, you said: “I am doing something with Cavalier but I am not quite sure what…”
That is because I was not quite ready to talk about it yet… Although at that point, I did know a bit. Cavalier had given me 10 pages and an itinerary – basically that we would go to this place and pass by this or that city, but you never know if you might take alternative routes, side roads, or highways…
How do you know each other?
I saw him crossing the street one day in 2001 and I caught up to him to say hi. Since then, we have stayed in touch. In all these years, Alain has never really offered me to work on something specific. He just told me these two phrases, “If I ever film a professional actor again it will be you, Vincent. But I do not know if that is going to happen, and I do not want you getting your hopes up.” And the other one: “I think I have got something. Maybe we can try it out and see; if it does not work out, we will stop.” And then: “What if we played the President and the Prime Minister? And from time to time we would come back to our daily business.”
So the filming was done intermittently?
We filmed during our free time. We were shooting 4 or 5 days per month so it took us over a year to wrap it up. For a year, we would talk on the phone day and night. I spent a year thinking of nothing but Alain Cavalier and the movie.
What do you say to yourself when accepting such a project? “I am going to make a film with this man whom I admire?”
The first two days you do. The third day, you discover an incredible and unique scene. The fourth day, you think to yourself: what I am doing is no small feat. The sixth day, you come across someone who is like: “Hey! I heard you were working with Cavalier… Way to go, lucky you!” Then on the eleventh day, a nervous breakdown because I am annoyed with something. And on the seventeenth day, he calls and says: “That scene where you get angry at the landlord, that is something! You’ll see!” Anyway… I am here, alive, vibrant, and things happen. It is a thrill!
At one point, in the movie, you are looking at a compromising photo of your political opponent. In the middle of the scandal with DSK, the timing was perfect…
Unbelievable. The worst is that we filmed it seven months before the affair, which clearly means that such political scandals happen all the time in France, and abroad. That shows you just how pathetic it is.
Did you film the scenes chronologically?
We had to. The movie was the one to reach to Alain at night in his dreams. He was told: “I need this. Now that you have asked Vincent to be the Prime Minister, I need a scene where Vincent is going to give you his answer. After that, there has to be a scene where you two have lunch. And then we will go slowly until the first round.”
At times in the movie you play your own self instead of the prime minister. Where does it come from?
I cannot really explain it. It makes it so much better and so much more disturbing… I feel awful that I cannot explain it to you but it is like trying to explain a laugh. I cannot describe you what it was like. How Alain would show up at my house at 11 am, how I was feeling, what I was or was not wearing, who I was on the phone with, my talking to the maid at the same time, how Alain would make himself a cup of coffee or how we would go out for lunch. How I would take a shower while he was filming something through the window, how I would then come back into the room and he would tell me: “Take the camera, Vincent. I want to ask you something.” And then he would ask me something about the atomic bomb. And while the camera kept rolling we would look at our schedules to arrange our next meeting. I had the work schedule for Lioret’s film so he would ask me: “So how is that going?” There are countless hours of footage where we talk about everything and nothing. One day he called me: “Can I send a car to come and get you?” And I ended up in a forest north of Paris. You have to be open-minded!
You once said that the story is what is important, not the director. Would you say the opposite in this case?
Well, it is the same thing… He is his story, and his story is him. This allows me to play without a specific script and to trust a man whose films I love.
Are you now tempted to work as Alain does?
He is much less capable of making a film with a team of a hundred people than I am of making a film with two. He cannot and does not want to anymore. I completely understand. As an actor, I am going to keep working as I used to, because I am still interested in many subjects and many directors, who will be followed by a team. And that is perfectly fine for me, because it does not affect the actor. On the other hand, if I had to direct, I do not imagine doing it any other way than Alain does. Maybe not with just two people but I do not see myself working on my film La Bourgeoisie in an apartment with five trailers of material, cables in the stairway, a production team, a cafeteria, a production office, printers, call sheets… And having to be on top from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm…
I can ask a friend to lend me his apartment. Then I only need a camera and tapes, not even money. For meals, we would go down to the corner cafe and have a sandwich and a beer. We would wrap it up in three weeks time with actors paid very little but interested in what the film will gross. I would not be putting anyone at risk. I could definitely do a film like that.
It is the first time that you show your tics on screen…
Because I cannot tell if it is me or the Prime Minister, the two become one. That is what is interesting in the film, almost schizophrenic. It is the eccentricity and the boldness of the movie. Cinema has existed for a hundred years so it is rare to see something different.
We did not speak much about the content but Pater is also a political utopia suggesting the establishment of a maximum salary…
Indeed, we are suggesting something new for France! Lots of things were cut out of the film. It is hard to talk about it. I just want everyone to go see it! It is often the case, but here especially I want to say: “Just go see it and then we’ll talk about it”.
published in the “Express Magazine” ~ French (22/06/2011)
published in the “Express Magazine” ~ French (22/06/2011)