Juliette Binoche: “We must bring out a new energy within us”
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Juliette Binoche: “We must bring out a new energy within us”
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Juliette Binoche: “We have to bring out a new energy within us”
L’ An actress is once again impressive in “Ouistreham”, by Emmanuel Carrère. This committed and luminous woman has a communicative passion.
After reading Quai de Ouistreham , by Florence Aubenas, did you want to make a film of it?
Juliette Binoche – Cédric Kahn, the director, had called me so that we could shoot a film together but, a week later, he informed me that he was giving up, because Florence Aubenas did not want to sell her rights. I was sad because I found the experience of this book essential. So I called Florence, who told me that she would only agree to one condition: Emmanuel Carrère had to write the screenplay. I made an appointment with him to ask him, also offering to do it. I had seen the Mustache and its documentary Return to Kotelnitch , whom I had really liked and who had even been a source of inspiration for my role in Breaking in , by Anthony Minghella. Emmanuel was then writing his book the Kingdom . So I took advantage of this time to meet regularly all three.
Do not weren’t you supposed to also produce the film?
Juliette Binoche – Yes, but, at the dawn of filming and financing, Emmanuel did not want me to produce. I accepted his refusal immediately. It was humiliating for me, deep down, but it allowed me to put a foot in the stirrup to enter this world of the invisible. Emmanuel was amazed that I reacted so well, but I thought the game was worth the candle. You don’t make a film for yourself, but for others, for your subject. This change did not complicate our relationship, as I was going in full consciousness, of my own free will. His reaction reflected more of a lack of confidence in himself than in me.
You play Marianne, an author who wants to write about precarious work and the condition of women …
Juliette Binoche – Florence Aubenas went to Caen to live an experience, like a researcher. Her initial objective was to see how long it would take to land a CDI with the “false” profile of a fifty-something, without a diploma, who finds herself alone after a marital separation, in a tiny apartment. This is the reality of many housewives, young people without diplomas or immigrants who have to survive. She really got in shape, going to bed late and getting up in the middle of the night to do some housework, counting every $ to pay for the gasoline for her used car. Because, without a car, it is difficult to work. Many make the journey on foot and walk for kilometers in the dark, the cold and the fear. It is a dimension that I was totally unaware of. It’s the race for $, with constant pressure and extreme fatigue.
Emmanuel Carrère emphasizes that you have been humble and generous. How does alchemy work with non-professionals?
Juliette Binoche – The actresses in the film have all had real-life experiences in cleaning or working in the factory. Emmanuel wanted the film to be as close as possible to their reality. With this in mind, even though he is a recognized author, he was not hooked on writing his screenplay, but open to a way of speaking that was closer to them. For me, what mattered to me was that they, and all of them, were confident to give the best of themselves. And all, in their singularity, their rhythm, played the game. Happy and excited at heart to be filmed in their reality transposed in a film and committed to their responsibility to be true in relation to what they know about their life. daily, like reporters. For more than a year, with the help of coach Elsa Pharaon, Emmanuel filmed these women and prepared them for the shoot. Over the takes, I was happy to see the trust building in them and between us. They were all naturally very talented, in particular Hélène Lambert, with whom I played longer.
“You don’t make a film for yourself, but for others, for your subject. ”
Which one is angry when she learns that Marianne is actually a journalist …
Juliette Binoche – Some women who shared her daily life during her stay in Caen felt betrayed by Florence, who infiltrated their community while hiding her real profession, that of journalist and author . My character in the film goes through this discomfort and is confronted with this lie. But could she, with so much authenticity, see, understand, feel this reality, these friendships which make a human being able to resist the harshness of that life, by revealing his real identity? I think his intention was to help, not to betray. His choice was radical, but undoubtedly necessary. But the feeling of betrayal remains authentic in the character of Hélène, as it was for Florence’s friend at the time. It’s a delicate situation that the film tackles, that the book doesn’t reveal, just a few sentences at the end. It is a subject that is close to my heart because, as an actress, I have sometimes passed myself off as someone else in order to feel a reality, I am thinking in particular of Lovers of Pont-Neuf .
Before the shooting, were you aware of the daily difficulties these women have on the ferries?
Juliette Binoche – I couldn’t even imagine it. They are under constant tension, because everything must be finished before the boat leaves the dock. It is necessity and their solidarity that keep them upright. We see in these women bodies worn out over the years, marked faces, but also resistance to the storm, with make-up, coquetry … All of this coupled with an overwhelming dignity, despite the lack of recognition that they suffer on a daily basis. Having said that, I believe that working conditions on ferries have changed a bit since the publication of Florence Aubenas’ book.
How did you get into Marianne’s shoes, thank you?
Juliette Binoche – I arrived the day before the shoot, exhausted and with the flu, in a fragile family situation, my father being very weak. The state of exhaustion I found myself in was my entry point into the film. For a long time I wanted to talk about small jobs, people who work hard and who cannot be seen, the “invisible”, as Florence writes. This subject must certainly reflect my family history, my maternal grandmother, a Polish woman who arrived in France during the Second World War, divorced with two children, not speaking French, had to adapt to a new life. She invented herself a seamstress and, subsequently, a cook, after having lived a comfortable life in Poland with her French husband. My mother, she did housework, a student, to survive. I myself was a cashier for 20 years. Cleaning is an activity that I enjoyed early on, because my mother had taught us to clean, windows open, Vivaldi thoroughly, to scrub, iron, wash, sweep!
In view of your history, this subject was all the more important to you?
Juliette Binoche – As an actress, I like to observe to understand what is happening, what is the feeling, what is the thought, what are the living conditions … And I wanted to make a film about cleaning ladies for a long time. Small jobs are admirable: there is a relationship to service and humility that touches me. These people are indispensable, but unfortunately sometimes – often – looked down upon. A look that does not see them, a pittance, a lack of respect in places left disgusting. It’s contempt, even if we do not know who will pass the broom after … During the filming of Lovers of Pont-Neuf , I had met a girl who worked in hotels and had told me in what state the customers deliberately left their rooms. This is also what these housekeepers experience on the ferries, who clean filthy cabins. But I am convinced that we can educate ourselves, learn, change our outlook.
Through a book or a movie, for example?
Juliette Binoche – Maybe with Ouistreham , some will pay more attention to these shadow workers. All it takes is a gesture, a word, a look, a smile to give them their rightful place, make them exist and understand that there is no hierarchy in what we give. . The intention of his work is the real stream of life, his real participation in the world. Not what we do, but how we do it. The big is also in the small. A person who does the housework puts energy in a place. When these beings are respected, a positive energy emerges from the place: it is a virtuous circle. I have two people who work for me and I see it, when the relationship is humanly pleasant, that changes everything. They have their families, but they are also part of mine. No one is more important than the other, there are only different tasks.
Have Did you pass these values on to your two children?
Juliette Binoche – Difficult, but there is progress! Since I worked a lot, I had someone at home who did the housework for them. To convey these things, sometimes it takes a confrontation or, much better, inventing games to turn the task into a fun activity. But it takes time and energy. And then, you shouldn’t go overboard either. The mess does not send positive waves, but the mania is just as constraining and crippling. When I’m painting or cooking, for example, I don’t want to put everything away right away. I like to be lost in the color or the smells, I need my little “mess” .
You come back from seven months in the United States, where you have toured a lot. How was it ?
Juliette Binoche – J have often worked abroad. I had lived six months in New York for a play. But this is the first time that I was so far from my children, for so long, without being able to return to Paris because of the Covid – 19. They are big today, don’t need me as much, but I missed them. Like my whole life here. I am amazed to see everything I forgot, by the way, including my entry code!
“I hope that solidarity will save us, that our hearts will be turned around. ”
What did you shoot there?
Juliette Binoche – I first went to Mississippi for Paradise Highway , a film by Anna Gutto, where I play a truck driver. I did not have my license, but I can drive an eighteen wheeler with thirteen speeds! I then left for five months in Georgia, in Atlanta, to shoot The Staircase , a series for HBO, with Colin Firth, Sophie Turner, Toni Collette … It is a fiction taken from the true story of Michael Peterson, a mystery writer accused of having killed his wife . I play the documentary editor Suspicions , that the director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade had devoted to this affair.
You are the same actress when you play in French or in English?
Juliette Binoche – C ‘ is liberating to play in English, but it obviously requires more work. What’s great is when you forget the language you’re playing in. The intention behind the words is the main thing, as in life!
Passion never seems leaving you?
Juliette Binoche – The one of the secrets is never to repeat oneself and to go towards new horizons, which seem impossible.
Do you have projects in France?
Juliette Binoche – I’m going to shoot in Christophe Honoré’s next film, the High School student , and I finished Marie-Monique Robin’s documentary, la Fabrique des pandémies . I’m going back abroad to interview scientists and try to understand the link between the destruction of biodiversity and pandemics. If we do not respect our environment, we put ourselves in danger. Pandemics will not stop with the Covid – 12.
Despite the context, what do you hope for 2022?
Juliette Binoche – We need to instill new energy and awareness within us as we go through these uncertain times. We can no longer continue as before, which means questioning ourselves, all this industrial life which is slowly killing us, but also at high speed. I hope that solidarity will save us, that the reversal of the heart will take place. A wave of youth is pushing us to change, I hope they will stay the course and sweep away old ideas that are already out of date, because there is housecleaning to do!
And for your privacy?
Juliette Binoche – I am happy to find my mother and my family. My son is taking off, he’s leaving my home this year and I’m looking forward to it for him, it’s a new chapter. My daughter is at home and apparently she doesn’t really want to go yet!
Ouistreham , by Emmanuel Carrère. Released on 12 January.
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