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2009 Festival Feature Films (March 27-29)

L’après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas

French director Michelle Porte presents the North American premiere of L’Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas

director Michelle Porte screenplay Michelle Porte based on the novel L’Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas by Marguerite Duras starring Michel Bouquet, Miou-Miou running time 1 h 19 min general audience

Les Lieux de Marguerite Duras

By Marguerite Duras and Michelle Porte
2009 Reedition
  INA Galimard
DVD collection Les Grandes Entretiens


It’s summer. The light is dazzling. We’re in the south of France. The only house in the forest is the one that Mr. Andesmas has just bought for his daughter, Valerie. That afternoon, Mr. Andesmas has an appointment with a builder, Michel Arc.

He waits on the site of the future terrace, overlooking the valley. Music rises up from the village below, a tune that everyone is singing that summer. Life now unfolds far from Mr. Andesmas. At his age he is used to this. Sitting in the shade, in an old wicker armchair, he waits for Michel Arc, who doesn’t appear, and thinks of his young daughter Valerie, now his only love, who dances below on the village square.

For a moment he is distracted by a passing dog and then by the arrival of a strange little girl, a messenger from Michel Arc, her father. In the heat and dizziness of the afternoon, he will also revive the memory of one of the key moments in his life: the departure of his wife 10 years earlier when she left the two of them, him and his daughter.

Then, all of a sudden, there is another woman in front of him: Michel Arc’s wife. She circles him, approaching him, veering away, coming back, desperate with love and restrained suffering. “You’re the only one I can talk to about her, do you understand? Valerie makes me suffer terribly.”

Mr. Andesmas hears her speak and, trying not to listen, discovers a Valerie whom he does not know. …

Michelle Porte

2004 L’Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas
1996 Un siècle d’écrivains – Françoise Sagan
1995 Le Gardien du feu
1993 La Maison de Jean-Pierre Raynaud 1969-1993
1992 Jean Degottex
  Signalement, le voyage au Pérou
  Une maison en Allemagne
1990 Portrait de famille avec mon père Maurice Denis
1989 Edmond Jabès
1988 D’un Nord à l’autre
  Ballade en Champagne
1987 Le Tour de Victor Laloux
1986 A la recherche de Carl Theodor Dreyer
1985 La Princesse Palatine à Versailles
1984 Savannah Bay c’est toi with Marguerite Duras
1982 La Peste Marseille 1720
1981 Les Lieux de Virginia Woolf
1976 Les Lieux de Marguerite Duras

second assistant director

1977 Baxter, Véra Baxter by Marguerite Duras


Les Lieux de Marguerite Duras by Marguerite Duras and Michelle Porte. Les Éditions de Minuit.
Le Camion. Entretiens avec Michelle Porte by Marguerite Duras. Éditions de Minuit.

director of photography
Dominique Le Rigoleur

2005 Emmenez-moi by Edmond Bensimon
2004 L’Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas by Michelle Porte
2001 Clandestino by Paule Muxel
Tout près des étoiles: Les danseurs de l’Opéra de Paris by Nils Tavernier
1999 Balkan Baroque by Pierre Coulibeuf
1998 La vie rêvée des anges by Erick Zonca
1992 L’Homme de ma vie by Jean-Charles Tacchella
1990 Dédé by Jean-Louis Benoît
  Dames galantes by Jean-Charles Tacchella
1988 La Lectrice by Michel Deville
  La Vallée des anges by Aline Issermann
1987 Résidence surveillée by Frédéric Compain
  Buisson ardent by Laurent Perrin
1986 L’Amant magnifique by Aline Issermann
1985 Passage secret by Laurent Perrin
  Cent francs l’amour by Jacques Richard
1984 Louise l’insoumise by Charlotte Silvera
  La Triche by Yannick Bellon
1983 Le Destin de Juliette by Aline Issermann
  Lettres d’amour perdues by Robert Salis
  Rendez-vous avec Marguerite by Nicolas Klotz
1982 Agatha et les lectures illimitées by Marguerite Duras
1981 L’Homme atlantique by Marguerite Duras

Michel Bouquet

selected filmography

2004 L’Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas by Michelle Porte
  Le Promeneur du Champ de Mars by Robert Guédiguian
2003 Les Côtelettes by Bertrand Blier
2001 Comment j’ai tué mon père by Anne Fontaine
1994 Elisa by Jean Becker
1993 L’Œil de Vichy by Claude Chabrol
1991 Toto le héros by Jaco van Dormael
  Tous les matins du monde by Alain Corneau
1985 Poulet au vinaigre by Claude Chabrol
1982 Les Misérables by Robert Hossein
  La Raison d’état by André Cayatte
Vincent mit l’âne dans un pré (et s’en vint dans l’autre) by Pierre Zucca
1973 Le Serpent by Henri Verneuil
  Il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu by André Cayatte
  France S.A. by Alain Corneau
1971 Juste avant la nuit by Claude Chabrol
  Papa les petits bateaux by Nelly Kaplan
1970 La Rupture by Claude Chabrol
1969 La Sirène du Mississippi by François Truffaut
  Borsalino by Jacques Deray
  La Femme infidèle by Claude Chabrol
1967 La Route de Corinthe by Claude Chabrol
  La Mariée était en noir by François Truffaut


selected filmography

2008 Pour un fils by Alix De Maistre
  Le Concert by Radu Mihaileanu
  Mia et le Migou (voice) by Jacques-Rémy Girerd
2007 Affaire de famille by Claus Drexel
  Le Grand Alibi by Pascal Bonitzer
2005 La Science des rêves by Michel Gondry
  Riviera by Anne Villacèque
  Avril by Gérard Hustache-Mathieu
  Le Héros de la famille by Thierry Klifa
  Les Murs porteurs by Cyril Gelblat
2004 Folle embellie by Dominique Cabrera
  L’Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas by Michelle Porte
  L’un reste l’autre part by Claude Berri
2003 Mariages! by Valérie Guignabodet
2000 Tout va bien, on s’en va by Claude Mouriéras
1997 Nettoyage à sec by Anne Fontaine
1996 Le Huitième Jour by Jaco van Dormael
1995 Ma femme me quitte by Didier Kaminka
1994 Un Indien dans la ville by Hervé Palud
1993 Germinal by Claude Berri
  Montparnasse – Pondichéry by Yves Robert
1992 Tango by Patrice Leconte
1991 La Totale by Claude Zidi
1990 Milou en mai by Louis Malle
1988 La Lectrice by Michelle Deville
1986 Tenue de soirée by Bertrand Blier
1983 Coup de foudre by Diane Kurys
1982 Guy de Maupassant by Michel Drach
  Josepha by Christopher Frank
1978 Les Routes du sud by Joseph Losey
1976 Jonas qui aura 25 ans en l’an 2000 by Alain Tanner
1973 Les Valseuses by Bertrand Blier

Interview with Michelle Porte (director/screenwriter)

Michelle Porte, you were friends with Marguerite Duras and worked with her regularly. You first met her in 1966, on the set of her film La Musica. In 1976, you made a film, Les Lieux de Marguerite Duras, followed in 1977 by a book of interviews. That same year, you published another series of interviews about her film Le Camion. In 1983 you filmed the rehearsals for Duras’ production of her play Savannah Bay, at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris, with Madeleine Renaud and Bulle Ogier. When and how did you have the idea of adapting L’Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas for the screen?
I have always been fond of this book of Marguerite’s. The story immediately touched me: the love of this old man for his daughter Valerie, L’après-midi de Monsieur Andesmasthe last love of his life, so totally absolute, is something that can touch us all. It was this simplicity that drew me to the subject. I always told Marguerite, “If there’s one work of yours that I would like to adapt for the screen, it is L’Après-midi de Monsieur Andesmas.” She would reply, “If I do not make it, you will do it after my death.” It is a film that she would have liked to make.

In writing this book, Marguerite Duras said that she used a precise geographic setting, a house that she had seen between Saint-Tropez and Gassin, and that she describes as being isolated, “on a hill covered by the forest … with the Mediterranean in the distance.” In the film, the house is located near Gordes, without the sea, and yet it is clearly Mr. Andesmas’ house. How did you pick this setting as the location for the film?
For a long time, when I started adapting the novel, I naïvely tried to find a place that would be like the one Marguerite described in her book; in other words a place from which you could see the sea, a house overlooking a village far below. At the same time, I live in an isolated place, surrounded by the forest, but which is not on the seashore since it is in the Vaucluse hills. I know the place very well — I know all the trees, the land, the light. Then I remembered when Marguerite Duras first visited me there: right away, she said, “Oh, this is Mr. Andesmas’ house!” Little by little, I realized that I wanted to shoot there, in that setting, to enclose the story in that location.

It is the story of two kinds of suffering, two forms of dispossession. The beauty and originality of the film lie in the fact that this tragedy doesn’t unfold within a closed setting but that it is located in a totally open space.
I wanted the characters in the story to be rooted in the setting just like the trees that I film. This place is not a simple set but a character in its own right. The place where Miou-Miou expresses her suffering in this sort of desperate wandering had to be felt by me, I had to know it well.

At several points in the film, we have a fleeting glimpse of the beach outside the residence-hotel Les Roches Noires, in Trouville. Les Roches Noires, where Duras bought an apartment in 1963, is a key feature of her imaginary world, set of several of her films. Why does it appear here?
In the book, we know very little about Mr. Andesmas; we only know that his wife left him for another man. So I chose to set this scene at Les Roches Noires, a place that was Marguerite’s, rather than anywhere else.

Michel Bouquet plays Mr. Andesmas while Miou-Miou is Michel Arc’s wife. Miou-Miou is very moving, with a blend of fragility and strength …
Yes, and vitality, which is the wonderful thing about Miou-Miou. I have always felt that there was something very graceful about her too. This is very important in the film where there is no action in the traditional sense but where the bodies move around a great deal. Movements had to be a means of expression, just like words.

On the screen, the character of Valerie is glowing, like a sort of shining icon. We are also struck by the concentration with which Paloma Veinstein, playing Michel Arc’s daughter, looks at things and people. L’après-midi de Monsieur AndesmasHow did you choose your supporting cast?
For the part of Valerie Andesmas, I wanted a beautiful blonde girl because there’s a sort of myth of blondeness in Duras’ work. I did not want someone who would play on her powers of seduction but rather a girl who was beautiful without realizing it. For the little girl, that was another immediate attraction. She immediately understood the strangeness and complexity of her character.

The music has a genuine presence in the film. We are particularly struck by a melody played on the cello that was composed by Carlos d’Alessio. For the audiences of India Song, Duras’ “cult film,” the music of Carlos d’Alessio is inseparable from the magic of the images. How did this composition become the music for your film?
Delphine Seyrig and Sami Frey once gave a recital of Duras’ works, at the La Roque-d’Anthéron music festival, on a piano accompaned by Carlos d’Alessio. There was one particular text entitled “When the lilac blooms, my love.” Those are the words of the song that Anne Isserman sings with a great deal of talent in the film. That immediately provided the atmosphere; Carlos was someone who understood Marguerite’s work completely.

– Interview conducted by Joëlle Pagès-Pindon.





Virginia Commonwealth University University of Richmond University of Richmond