Childhood, American consecration… Behind the scenes of the biopic on Marinette Pichon, the first football star

11:00 a.m., July 4, 2022

In the spring sweetness, tempers flare on the ground. The French team, led 1 to 0 by Brazil a few minutes from the end of the match, saw defeat looming. It’s reckoning without the tenacity of one of the Blues, who manages to cross towards the surface. A partner eludes the marking, controls the ball and… sends it over the opposing goal. ” Whoops ! », we hear from the almost empty stands. The attacker is not more upset than that to have missed his gesture. She knows there will be another attempt, another take. Then another and another, until she finds the way to the nets.

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Paced like a final

The meeting that is played this day in March is a partial reconstruction of the France-Brazil of the 2003 World Cup in the United States. The Jean-Bouin stadium (Paris 16th), home to the Paris Saint-Germain women’s team, is hosting the filming of a biopic dedicated to Marinette Pichon, legend of Les Bleues with 81 goals scored in selection between 1994 and 2007. The first French to have signed a professional contract too. It was in the early 2000s at the Philadelphia Charge, a soccer club in the United States, where his left foot shook more than two seasons. The peak of an exceptional career that she had told in 2018 in her autobiography Never let go (First Editions).

All the ingredients of the fairy tale are there

“All the ingredients of the fairy tale are there, develops the director of the film, Virginie Verrier. There are the benevolent characters, the antagonists, the rise, the fall with the eviction of the French team, the return… If I had written a fiction, I would not have allowed myself so many reversals of the situation! » Especially since the trajectory of the first French star of women’s football is as romantic behind the scenes as on the field. From his youth in Champagne with an alcoholic and violent father to American consecration, through the discovery of his homosexuality and his personal fulfillment, the biopic, which should be released in theaters in the spring of 2023, visits thirty years of his life.

Marinette wants to be abundant and rhythmic like a cup final. Despite a rather comfortable budget (seven million euros) and filming time (eight weeks), Virginie Verrier, who produced it via her company Vigo Film, says she sees her ambition and her resources colliding. On the other hand, it can count on the support of a prominent distributor, The Jokers, that of Parasite, Palme d’or at Cannes in 2019. As well as a nice cast: Émilie Dequenne (Rosetta) and Alban Lenoir (Spangled Shrimps) play Marinette’s parents; Fred Testot, Caroline Proust (the series gears) and Sylvie Testud embody her successive coaches. The footballer is for her part embodied by Garance Marillier, revealed by Severeby Julia Ducournau, another story of learning but with cannibal sauce.

Figure of French sport

Shortly after the lunch break, Marinette Pichon (the real one) hangs out on set with her wife, Ingrid Moatti, former disabled basketball champion, and their children, whom the ex-footballer affectionately calls “my little mouths”. At 46, she is now a television consultant and general manager of a club in Montreal. From the stands, she observes a sequence of play in which Garance Marillier celebrates a goal with her partners. “That’s not realistic! she points out. They need to celebrate it more frankly. »

Marinette Pichon says she is proud to see her destiny adapted to the cinema, but she knows that the result risks rekindling old wounds. “I feel that this film will make me capsize, as it will capsize my mother and my sistershe says. Going through the stages I went through and finding a balance was not easy. The hardest thing was to stop feeling guilty. I was convinced for a long time that everything was my fault. When I look back, I am always amazed. I have a crazy destiny, football saved me. »

Football made her a figure of French sport at a time when players were ignored, when they were not despised. No separate changing rooms from men’s or appropriate clothing. Even in the France team, the young women had only one jersey at their disposal, whatever the weather conditions. Things have since evolved, particularly in terms of the media. But, three years after the organization of the World Cup in France, the national championship remains amateur, unlike its Italian equivalents (professional from next season) and Spanish. “The Fed always announces that it is moving forward, but the results are slow, regrets Marinette Pichon. We need a more homogeneous championship: when the players play 22 matches in the season and only two have a real stake, it’s not very challenging. »

I have a crazy destiny, football saved me

This lack of recognition is also observed in amateur football. Garance Marillier herself, a player in an associative club, Gadji FC, is annoyed at not being able to indulge in her passion as she would like. “We don’t have a slot to play in a stadium. We’ve been touring town halls for two years, especially those in eastern Paris, so a priori left-wing town halls, but nothing has changed. » The 24-year-old actress, with a Marinette-style wig, followed two months of preparation before embodying her. “I had to have the look of a real footballer and better support, but above all I had to manage to approach her style and adopt her fighting attitude on the pitch. »

The physical challenge continued during this intense week of filming at the Jean-Bouin stadium, where most of the football scenes were recorded. Garance Marillier is tired, but knows that her efforts have not been in vain. “It’s also in exhaustion that we manage to find emotions. It’s one of the best experiences of my life.”, she smiles. While filming is now over, the actress is not done with football: a claimed supporter of PSG, she warns that she will diligently follow the Women’s Euro, which begins in three days in England.

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Childhood, American consecration… Behind the scenes of the biopic on Marinette Pichon, the first football star