Adèle Exarchopoulos: “Children feel everything. From my experience with my son, I strongly believe in it.

The actress is on the Croisette in The Five Devilsby Léa Mysius, where she plays the mother of a little girl with magical powers.

Eight-year-old Vicky has a secret: an overdeveloped sense of smell that allows her to penetrate the memories of others. She thus discovers the past of her mother, Joanne, ex-Miss vegetating in a small mountain town between a husband she no longer desires, and the venomous glances of the neighbors: in her youth, Joanne was linked to a drama which traumatized the scene, then married a black man. A role of a “banal” woman at first sight, as described by her interpreter, Adèle Exarchopoulos, who accompanies her on her way to reconciliation with herself and her family.

The Five Devils, by Léa Mysius, presented at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in the Directors’ Fortnight, is a beautiful film imbued with magical realism, which tells how secrets never free us from the past, and that children are the first to detect them. Almost ten years later The Life of Adelemeeting with the one whose choices draw a rich and eclectic career in French cinema.

powers and secrets

Madame Figaro .- Why were you seduced by the screenplay of Five Devil s?
Adèle Exarchopoulos .- I knew Léa’s work, I had seen her first film, Ava. I find that there is something very playful in his cinema: they are intimate stories told in a fantastic setting. I liked the fact that there were many important subjects covered, without it being frontal: whether it was a love story between two women, or a mixed family that the we rarely see in the cinema. There is also the fact of playing with non-professional actors. Sally Dramé, who plays the main role, that of my daughter, is wonderful: to build our bond, Léa gave us exercises, like playing entire scenes with her clinging to my back, as if I were a branch. Very selfishly, I also liked the fact that we see my character, at the dawn of his 17, 18 years, then at 30 years old. It’s great to be able to play the same person at two very different times in their life.

“06400-Cannes”: the postcard of the 2022 festival, episode 3

It is also a film about everything that children perceive, despite what is not said…
Yes. It’s funny, it’s a film that talks about smells, and often, we say that we “smell” or that we don’t “smell” things. Children are capable of that, I’m sure. They don’t analyze, aren’t like us trying to theorize everything, but they “feel” everything. From my experience with my son, I strongly believe in it. I realize that the older I get, the more I discuss with my parents questions that I never dared to ask them before. I don’t want to settle down in this silence with my son. Of course, there is modesty, you have to find a happy medium in what you say. But I think it’s important to talk about everything, your failures, and your regrets.

The Five Devils tells a love story that neither time, nor racism, nor guilt manage to blunt… Is romanticism a concept to which you are sensitive?
Yes, in movies as in life. I like the romanticism of everyday life, which is fairly banal. The deepest compassion touches me. We need it, even in friendship: it is important to know how to say “I love you”, “I will be there for you”. It’s something I learned to do, and I’m proud of it.

The awkwardness of the first times

You have obtained a Palme d’or with The Life of Adele in 2013. When you return to the Cannes Film Festival, is it always a blank page that opens, or do the memories of this edition keep coming back?
It’s a new page every time. Each festival is a new opportunity, a new joy, especially depending on the people with whom we share it. When I think back to The Life of Adele, beyond the fact that it was an exceptional experience because we won the Palme d’Or and the film touched people, I also remember the awkwardness of the first few times. I find it important to cultivate it. We must constantly realize that we are lucky.

And your Palme d’or, where is it today?
At my parents.

“06400 Cannes”: the postcard from the Cannes Film Festival 2022, episode 2

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Adèle Exarchopoulos: “Children feel everything. From my experience with my son, I strongly believe in it.