“Laurent Cantet, the sense of the collective” published by Playlist Society | LeMagduCine

Playlist Society editions publish Laurent Cantet, the sense of the collective. After an analytical introduction by Marilou Duponchel, Quentin Mével interviews the French filmmaker who won the Palme d’or in 2008 for the feature film Between the walls.

The introduction of Laurent Cantet, the sense of the collective, written by Marilou Duponchel, manages to synthesize in a few pages what makes the essence of Laurent Cantet’s cinema. There is first of all this look compared to that of an entomologist, consisting in considering each film as an exploration, with significant social sediments and a desire to take language with the political fact, but in “I”, an individuality nevertheless bearer of this famous “collective sense” associated with the director in the title of the work. The journalist at Inrocks continues its reflection by pinning down some recurring themes: a youth in the process of construction or emancipation, the quest for oneself, sometimes for one’s identity, via the place assigned to us in our immediate environment, closed spaces envisaged in resonance direct with the characters, criticism of the patriarchy, feminism… But Laurent Cantet is also a method, collegial, involving amateur actors, giving a privileged place to improvisation, so many things that we find abundantly commented on in the river interview led by co-author Quentin Mével.

The exchange between Quentin Mével and Laurent Cantet forms the main part of the text. Evoking the filmography of the French filmmaker while strictly respecting his chronology, they deconstruct a modus operandi while shedding light on the essential components already highlighted, in part, by Marilou Duponchel. Laurent Cantet exposes the use of amateur actors as a response to facticity and a way of capturing spontaneous energy. He explains that his most faithful collaborators, in particular those of Sérénade Productions, gave him the courage to embark on directing. He sets out at length the place occupied by improvisations in his way of writing and designing a film. Finally, he comes back more generally to the distance and the symbiosis that must operate between the camera and the filmed subject, each film (or almost) being defined by a specific grammar on the subject.

In detail, Laurent Cantet is led to comment on the father/son relationship at the heart of beach games Where Human ressourcesto verbalize how closed spaces act on his characters (including open spaces, such as the Cuban terraces of Back to Ithaca), to talk about his collaborations with Arte and Pierre Chevalier or with his faithful co-screenwriter Robin Campillo or to recount his adaptation experiences for To the south, Between the walls Where Back to Ithaca. But each film is an opportunity to dig deeper into its specificities: Jalil Lespert reveals himself in The Sanguinaires, Human ressources wears authenticity over the shoulder and narrates a schism between his original social background and his hierarchical position in a company, The timetable is based on a news item, reveals its character only in dribs and drabs and often wraps it deliberately in a tight frame, To the south contains on-camera confessions and features a critique of Western puritanism/patriarchy, Between the walls marks the advent of digital technology and the multiplicity of objectives, Foxfire mourns Frenchness and stands out with a 143-minute montage…

Laurent Cantet, the sense of the collective is a guided journey through a coherent and sophisticated filmography. Quentin Mével invites the French director to expose his motives and working methods. What emerges is perfectly summarized by Marilou Duponchel during her introductory analysis. Together, these two parts, exploratory and maieutic, show a cinema closer to its protagonists and the underlying social facts, where the films resonate with each other, according to relatively firm narrative and formal logics.

Laurent Cantet, the sense of the collectiveMarilou Duponchel and Quentin Mevel
Playlist Society, February 2022, 144 pages

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“Laurent Cantet, the sense of the collective” published by Playlist Society | LeMagduCine