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When The Olympiads was launched at the Cannes Film Festival last year, an impression of renewal imposed itself. A bit as if, after feature films as striking asa prophet, Of rust and bone Where Dheepan, which won him the Palme d’Or in 2015, Jacques Audiard wanted to redistribute the cards and lay the foundations for a new cycle. In the eyes of the main interested party, however, this is not the case.
“Each time, I try to change something, explains the filmmaker during a videoconference interview granted to The Press. I don’t like repetition. François Truffaut said that we always make a film in reaction to the previous one. I don’t know if I completely agree with this statement, but it certainly has some truth. The story of Brothers Sisters was violent and very masculine. When you engage in this kind of cinema, you do so to the exclusion of others, especially women. »
The idea of Olympiads came to read graphic novels by American cartoonist Adrian Tomine, which a friend introduced her to. Jacques Audiard was stimulated in an unprecedented way, insofar as the author develops characters in his universe that he could never have imagined himself as a screenwriter and filmmaker.
We chose three Tomine novels and the adaptation work, apart from the transposition in Paris, was essentially to create a fourth character – that of the boy – to link the stories together.
Starring Noémie Merlant, Jenny Beth, Lucie Zhang and Makita Samba, The Olympiads follows the sexual and sentimental journey of four young people in their thirties, three women and a man, who seek to forge links in this era where everything is a question of “likes” or “dislikes” on social networks. The director did not wish to venture into the field of generational portraits, but he nevertheless offers a trendy story.
“I do not claim to make a very informed analysis of this generation which is not mine, assures Jacques Audiard. I found it interesting to explore the way of life of individuals in this particular age group, in this case people from a probably well-to-do middle class, who have already been through things, and who do not completely respond to the orders made to them. They will evolve for a while yet in a more floating, postadolescent world, so to speak, even if this is not quite the case. »
Céline Sciamma and Léa Mysius writing
Adrian Tomine’s novels being built around three female characters, Jacques Audiard called on Céline Sciamma (Portrait of the girl on fire) and Léa Mysius (Ava) for writing the screenplay. An obvious thing in the eyes of the filmmaker, especially since these two exceptional authors, also directors, have enriched the story with their vision.
Céline and Léa necessarily brought original things, but, in the end, when the film exists, we don’t really know who did what, so things have harmonized so well. It occurs as a kind of osmosis in the writing. I really appreciated the liveliness of the exchanges with them, and their always very relevant contribution in terms of dialogue.
Shot in black and white, The Olympiads also offers a more original image of the City of Light. The title also echoes a district of 13and district of Paris, whose buildings and streets bear names linked to Olympic disciplines or to cities that have already hosted the Games.
“I wanted to show the 13and arrondissement as a reduced and traversable space, emphasizes Jacques Audiard. I have shot a lot in Paris in my life. I live there, I know my city well, as much its charms and its beauties as its photographic and photogenic limits. Paris is a city very closed in on itself, very museum-like, very romantic, and, contrary to what one might think, not at all easy to film. I wanted to place myself in a neighborhood and show it as if we were somewhere else, in another metropolis, Asian perhaps. »
The real trouble
The thought that Watch the men fallhis first feature film, is two years away from celebrating his 30and birthday file also a “stroke of old” to the filmmaker.
“When a laboratory called me to have it restored, it was as if, all of a sudden, I was being offered a course of Botox! he exclaims. I had the chance to experience a revolution in cinema, an absolutely considerable transformation, but the downside is that I don’t know if we have drawn all the conclusions from it. I belong to a generation for which only the cinema could show films. Young filmmakers today probably have a completely different relationship with distribution methods. We are in a period of change. On the one hand, there are those who want to hold back change, and on the other, there are advancing forces, who want changes without really knowing which ones. Therein lies the real trouble. »
A musical… in Mexico!
Faithful to an approach from which any repetition is excluded, Jacques Audiard is now preparing his next feature film. Finding Emilia Perez will be a musical filmed in Mexico in Spanish, set in the world of drug traffickers. We do not yet know who will sign the music.
“This idea came to me by chance, first in the form of an opera in five acts,” he explains. I first wrote very quickly about thirty pages. And then, the desire to shoot a musical has been in my head for a while, but I don’t really know yet what awaits me. We’ll see ! »
The Olympiads hits theaters April 15.
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Jacques Audiard | The world through the eyes of young thirtysomethings