The Seattle International Film Festival has been a fun ride, but it is time to wrap up… until next year.
Before I hang up my movie critic hat, I would like to tell you about one last film.
What a delightful, heart-warming movie Low Profile is. The director is Cécilia Rouaud.
A modern romantic comedy, a “Rom-Com” as they say. But one that works.
First, a stellar cast, who clearly enjoyed themselves. Great chemistry between the lead actors, the beautiful and irresistible Vanessa Paradis, (award-winning actress, singer, model, French icon,) and the ruggedly handsome Denis Ménochet (you may remember Ménochet as the French farmer facing an impossible choice in the introductory scene of Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds.) Excellent supporting roles, Léa Drucker, Laurent Capelluto, and the adorable David Carvalho-Jorge, a little boy you won’t soon forget.
|Emmanuelle (Vanessa Paradis) meets Yvan (Denis Ménochet)|
|Leo (David Carvalho-Jorge,) the young boy who will teach Yvan how to become a father.|
Second, the touching, believable story of a modern family. A divorce. A broken heart. Challenging teenagers. A young child who will change the family’s lives forever. A complicated, surly, immature leading man who will learn to trust and love again. The adorable, klutzy, luminous young woman who enters his life at the worst possible time. A neurotic but loving sister and her supportive husband. Paris. The breathtaking Brittany coast.
|“Non smokers” Arianne (Léa Drucker,) and Emmanuelle (Vanessa Paradis) meet…|
Finally, a great story, written and directed by talented Cécilia Rouaud. This was her first movie, but she is no beginner. Cécilia has worked in the film industry for over ten years with more established directors, as second or first assistant. She learned her trade in the field.
|Cécilia Rouaud (left) with her lead actors, 2012|
Even though the movie came out in France last summer (with excellent reviews but a disappointing box office due to a limited distribution,) she came to Seattle last weekend to present Low Profile, because, she says: “That is why we make films; to meet and touch people.”
I was lucky enough to meet her privately after the projection and she answered a few questions for this budding movie critic. The conversation was en français, but I will try and do it justice.
Cécilia Rouaud –
Interview – by French Girl in Seattle
Sunday, June 9, Seattle, WA.
French Girl in Seattle:
Cécilia, bonjour. A central theme in your movie seems to be family; but a modern version of the family. People splitting up; starting new lives; children being torn apart; families brought together. This could have been a pretty depressing story.
I came from a stable family background. I always took it for granted. But one day, I had a child, and his father left me. A few years later, I met another man, who was already a father. We fell in love. Today, we are a family, and I love his child like my own. The message in the movie is that we can choose whom we love. We can choose our family. At first, when a family splits up, there is pain, and it appears to be a disaster. But down the road, it is also an opportunity, if you work at it. It can make your life richer. And that is what you see in the movie. Some good things can come out of difficult, painful situations. In that sense, the message is optimistic, I think.
The movie is also a romantic comedy, but not a traditional one. Many “Rom-Coms” fail. Yours does not. Why?
Merci. I tried to stay away from clichés. The story had to ring true. It had to be believable. My characters are messed up, but they are credible, I think. Vanessa, Denis, or Léa are established actors, yet they immediately came on board when I contacted them. They were very enthusiastic about the project, and loved working together. It shows on the screen. They were my characters, right from the start, and they were able to express the characters’ humanity and make us relate to them.
This was your first movie. You wrote and directed it. But you have been in the business for years. How challenging was it to direct those established actors?
Directing is finding a way to talk to different people. My actors all work differently. Vanessa [Paradis] occasionally asked me to demonstrate a scene for her. Then she gave it a try… and ended up being much better at it than I
[ed: she laughs.] Denis [Ménochet] always wanted to know every single detail about the character; what he thought; how he liked his coffee… Léa [Drucker] is a technician. All she needs is a word, (“slowly...”) and she gets it. For the child, because he was so young, I mostly wanted to avoid the mechanical recitation of the lines. So I gave no explanations to him; just brief directions: “Look to the right.” “Say these words…” – His face is so expressive. He was a natural.
Low Profile came out a year ago. How does it feel to be here and still talk about the movie? I assume you are already working on your next project? Can you talk about it or is it still confidential?
Low Profile is like my grown up child, who has moved out of the house already, but the movie was very important to me, obviously, as my first big project. I hope we find a distributor in the United States. I am not sure we have yet.
I am currently working on my next film. We have a cast lined up, and would like to start shooting at the beginning of next year. The producer still has to find the financing. It’s always about the money. “Le nerf de la guerre.” The lifeblood of movies.
The new movie is about families too. I think of it as a comedy, but people have told me they find the plot rather depressing [ed: She laughs.] A grandmother is about to die and asks her grandchildren (who do not get along) to take her to her final resting place. Vanessa Paradis and Denis Ménochet will return. [ed: established actor and director] Jean-Pierre Bacri, and Cécile Sallette will also join the cast.
The movie shows how family can destroy you or ultimately, save you. And how one must always remember where one came from.
I wish you the best of luck, Cécilia, and hope you find the financing for your project quickly. Maybe we will meet again here next year, or the following, to celebrate your new movie. Have you enjoyed your visit to Seattle?
Merci. I hope so too. This has been a short, but fun visit. Great city. I was amazed at how enthusiastic American audiences are, compared to the French public. They are not afraid to laugh (or cry,) while they are watching the movie… It is a great feeling for a director to see her audience so wrapped up in the story.
Merci, Seattle International Film Festival for showcasing American and international talent, once again.
Merci, Ryan E. for your encouragement and support.
|A bientôt, Cécilia. Bonne chance!|
Je me suis fait tout petit
Seattle readers of French Girl in Seattle:
Populaire, reviewed here a few days ago, will be playing once again on Friday June 14 at 7:00pm at the SIFF Cinema Uptown. Don’t miss it!