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2008 Festival Feature Films (March 28-30)

Dialogue avec mon jardinier

French director Jean Becker presents the American premiere of Dialogue avec mon jardinier

director Jean Becker screenplay Jean Cosmos, Jacques Monnet, Jean Becker based on the novel Dialogue avec mon jardinier by Henri Cueco, published by Éditions du Seuil producer Louis Becker starring Daniel Auteuil, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Fanny Cottençon running time 1 h 45 min although not rated, parental guidance suggested


An established 50-something painter, weary of Parisian life and on the verge of a divorce, returns to the countryside of central France to live in the house where he grew up. He needs someone with the skill he lacks to bring a vegetable garden back to life from the wilderness the grounds have become. He places a local ad for a gardener and the first to apply — and who gets the job — happens to be an old grade-school classmate, whom the painter hasn’t seen in years. Spending long days in each other’s company, the two men live a kind of delayed and brotherly adolescence which co-mingles their families, their knowledge, carrots, pumpkins, life, death, plane travel, currant bushes, tastes and colors. And through each other’s eyes they see the world’s spectacle in a different light.

Cesar award

Congratulations to Jean-Pierre Darroussin on his 2008 César nomination for Best Actor for Dialogue avec mon jardinier.

Jean Becker

2007 Deux jours à tuer
2003 Effroyables jardins (VCU French Film Festival 12)
2000 Un crime au paradis (VCU French Film Festival 9)
1998 Les Enfants du marais (VCU French Film Festival 8)
1995 Elisa
1983 L’Été meurtrier
1967 Tendre voyou
1965 Pas de caviar pour tante Olga
1964 Échappement libre
1961 Un nommé La Rocca

Jean-Pierre Darroussin
selected films since 1996

2007 Le Coeur des hommes 2 by Marc Esposito
  Lady Jane by Robert Guédiguian
  Les Grandes Personnes by Anna Novion
2006 Fragile(s) by Martin Valente
  J’attends quelqu’un by Jérôme Bonnell
2005 Toute la beauté du monde by Marc Esposito

Le Cactus by Gérard Bitton and Michel Munz

  Le Pressentiment by Jean-Pierre Darroussin
  Combien tu m’aimes? by Bertrand Blier
  Le Voyage en Arménie by Robert Guédiguian
2004 Mon père est ingénieur by Robert Guédiguian
  Un long dimanche de fiançailles by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  Cause toujours by Jeanne Labrune
  Saint Jacques… La Mecque by Coline Serreau
2003 Feux rouges by Cédric Kahn
  Les Clés de bagnole by Laurent Baffie
2002 C’est le bouquet! by Jeanne Labrune
  Ah! Si j’étais riche by Michel Munz and Gérard Bitton
  Le Coeur des hommes by Marc Esposito
  Le Retour du printemps by Carlos Pardo
2001 L’Art (délicat) de la séduction by Richard Berry
  Mille millièmes, fantaisie immobilière by Rémi Waterhouse
  Une affaire privée by Guillaume Nicloux
  Marie-Jo et ses deux amours by Robert Guédiguian
2000 A l’attaque by Robert Guédiguian
  La Vie est tranquille by Robert Guédiguian
  Ça ira mieux demain by Jeanne Labrune
1999 Le Goût des autres by Agnès Jaoui
1997 Marius et Jeannette by Robert Guédiguian
  On connaît la chanson by Alain Resnais
1996 Un air de famille by Cédric Klapisch

Daniel Auteuil
selected films since 1996

2007 Le Deuxième Souffle by Alain Corneau
  Ma fille a 15 ans by François Desagnat and Thomas Sorriaux
2006 Napoléon (et moi) by Paolo Virzi
  MR73 by Olivier Marchal
2005 L'Invité by Laurent Bouhnik
  La Doublure by Francis Veber

Peindre ou faire l’amour by Arnaud Larrieu and Jean-Marie Larrieu

  Mon meilleur ami by Patrice Leconte
  L’Entente cordiale by Vincent de Brus
2004 L'Un reste l’autre part by Claude Berri
  Caché by Michaël Haneke (Best Actor, 2005 European Film Awards)
36, quai des Orfèvres by Olivier Marchal
  Le Prix du désir by Roberto Ando
2003 Après vous... by Pierre Salvadori
  Les Clés de bagnole by Laurent Baffie
2001 Petites coupures by Pascal Bonitzer
  L'Adversaire by Nicole Garcia
2000 Le Placard by Francis Veber
  La Veuve de St Pierre by Patrice Leconte
  Sade by Benoît Jacquot
1999 La Fille sur le pont by Patrice Leconte (Best Actor, 2000 César Award)
Mauvaise passe by Michel Blanc
1997 Le Bossu by Philippe de Broca
1996 Lucie Aubrac by Claude Berri
  Passage à l’acte by Francis Girod
  Les Voleurs by André Téchiné
  Le Huitième Jour by Jaco Van Dormael (Best Actor Award, 1996 Cannes Film Festival)

Interview with Jean Becker (director)

What was it, when reading the book by Henri Cueco, that made you want to make a film of it?
I was immediately struck by the gardener’s way of speaking, of expressing himself, through very peculiar expressions. Incidentally, that’s surely what struck Cueco when he met this man and what made him want to write the book — so that something of this man would remain. This gardener is a special, rather exceptional, being. His take on life is completely spontaneous and naïve, and yet just and deep. He’s not your average Joe. His dialogues, as Cueco reconstructed them, are both terrifically strange and full of good sense.

Dialogue avec mon jardinier

What was the primary challenge of the adaptation?
I practically had to come up from scratch with the character of the painter who, in the book, is only there for the gardener to play off of. I started writing the script alone and then, rather quickly, I felt the need to get someone to help me. I naturally thought of Jean Cosmos because we got along very well when we worked together on the adaptation of Effroyables jardins, but also because his daughter is a painter and she was surely of great help to him in developing this character. The right balance needed to be struck between the two, so as not to detract from the gardener while giving enough life and substance to the painter.

L’Été meurtrier, Les Enfants du marais, Effroyables jardins, Dialogue avec mon jardinier ... in your films there is this kind of nostalgia for life in the countryside even though you didn’t grow up there.
I did, sort of. And it’s coming out now ... Indeed, when the war broke out and my father was taken prisoner, we went to live in the countryside. I was 7 years old, I was on a farm and I lived like the sons of the people who put us up. Then, my father returned from captivity and he filmed Goupi mains rouges. The story took place in a farmer’s world. So we went to live in Saint Léonard des Bois, again in the countryside! During the first part of my career, I suppressed these memories, these remembrances of the provinces. I think it was working on L’Été meurtrier with Sébastien Japrisot that gave me the taste for it again. I said to myself, “I feel good out here, telling stories with simple and authentic folk.” And today, it’s like it’s important for me to re-establish the link with my childhood memories.

Interview with Jean-Pierre Darroussin (actor)

What do you find the most touching about the gardener?
He’s a character who’s genuine, who’s in direct contact with what’s real, who has found meaning in his life — exactly what the painter’s character, who’s in an emotional desert, is searching for. The gardener knows that the furrow he’s plowed is straight. He can stand to look at himself in the mirror. He’s always been honest, loyal, never hurt anyone. He is a deeply moral character. He lives authentically, and therefore his life serves a purpose. That’s what’s so touching on a human level, and deeply exemplary. … People like him are rare. I like this character a lot — his look, his shoes, his pants, his mo-ped. … I liked wearing his costume.

What, in your mind, touches Jean Becker in the meeting between this painter and his gardener?
Dialogue avec mon jardinier He’s met lots of people, he’s an open person, very sensitive and observant. When his father made Le Trou, the characters really lived and breathed. He tries to film that mystery of why people interact in life. That’s his subject here too. Why do these two guys all of a sudden discover this bond? Why is a Parisian artist, an intellectual and aesthete, suddenly touched by this simple man? Precisely because something resonates within him. Jean, who’s very nostalgic, who’s very permeated by his father’s cinema, by the people he met at that time, tries to understand what was truer about this society that wasn’t just made up of consumers — why people were more into their work than into money, why they were more concerned with what they could do with their lives than with what they could expect from them ... Jean is exactly at the crossroads of these generations. He has lived in his time but with this feeling of everything we’ve lost because of this need for performance, image, recognition. It’s a universal theme, of the ancients and the moderns. There’s even something Chekhovian about it, in this examination of how the old days are dying out.




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