The on-screen and real-life couple talks the film that marks their first collaboration together
Four years after Two Friends (Les Deux Amis), Louis Garrel’s first film as a director, the french actor and filmmaker is back behind the camera with A Faithful Man (L’Homme Fidèle), his second feature that he also co-written with one of his heroes, the screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (Le Journal d’Une Femme de Chambre, La Voie Lactee, Le Fantôme de la Liberté).
A Faithful Man debuted at Toronto Film Festival in 2018, stars Garrel himself in the leading role with his real-life partner Laetitia Casta (it’s their first collaboration together) and Lily-Rose Depp.
The film starts eight years after the separation of Abel and Marianne: the two meet again when her husband dies. Abel sees this tragic event as a chance to win her ex back. Paul and Marianne’s son, Joseph, and Paul’s sister Eve (who’s always been in love with Abel) will act behind the scenes to prevent this reunion.
A Faithful Man debuts in Italy on April 11, 2019. Louis Garrel and Laetitia Casta presented the film yesterday, at the New French Cinema Festival in Rome.
In a statement, you said that A Faithful Man is about feelings, but that it’s not a romantic film. How would you describe it?
Louis Garrel: «My first film was about the expression of feelings, for this one I worked with Jean-Claude Carrière: I’ve been a fan of his work since I was 14, so I said “Let’s try to write a film together”. When we met, I realized that he hates psychology and sentimentalism, while I am a romantic. The subject is quite ordinary and he has a very dry writing so we decided to play with these elements: with no access to characters’ feelings, the audience can project whatever it wants onto them. Every now and then, me and Jean-Claude were in contrast: sometimes I was afraid of him because he wrote over 250 script with people like Luis Buñuel, Miloš Forman, Marco Ferreri and I’m only “a little Lou Lou”. I gave him a love story, but we ended up playing with genres: in A Faithful Man there’s comedy, thriller, romance, because we had this idea of building every scene as a surprise.»
After the debut at Toronto Film Festival in Canada and the preview at San Sebastian Festival in Spain, some critics compared you to Woody Allen. Do you take it as a compliment?
Louis Garrel: «To me this “faithful man” is a charater who is also faithful to a certain kind of french cinema: this film is a tribute to my memories of french cinema, to François Truffaut and Claude Sautet. The people who mentioned Woody Allen probably saw the funny elements in my film: I think we both have sense of humor. When I feel strong I watch Bergman’s films, when I feel weak I watch Woody Allen’s.»
Laetitia, Marianne starts the story: how did you work on this character?
Laetitia Casta: «When I read the script, I realized that Marianne was a well-defined character, so I thought “How could I make this person real?”. I wanted her to be not too tough and with a little bit of empathy, my mission was to find some generosity in her. So I separated myself from Marianne and I pictured her love story with Abel in my mind: the film starts 8 years after their break-up and she doesn’t feel guilty at all. Being without feelings was comfortable: I wish I could act like Marianne in my real life!»
You chose cinema after a long career as a supermodel: how do you conciliate these two parts of you?
Laetitia Casta: «Being a model is grea, but it’s never been enough for me. I’ve always known that I was more than that.»
As an actress, do you have any female icons?
Laetitia Casta: «Anna Magnani and Gena Rowlands have always inspired me, but many actresses inspire me every day with their talent.»
Louis, the way you represent men in this film is not exactly flattering. Why?
Louis Garrel: «I’ve always been surrounded by strong women in my life: my mother, my girlfriends…they’re all strong women. I’m used to let them decide. I wanted to make a film where man’s virility was disguised: in this film women decide, like queens, like Cleopatra. I understand that some men might not identify with my character, but to me this is familiar: I like to be led by women.»
You worked before with Lily-Rose Depp, in the film Planetarium: have you thought about her for the role of Eve since the beginning?
Louis Garrel: «The truth is that I met her for the first time when she was 15, she had a role in a friend’s film. I remember I didn’t know how to to talk to her and finally I said: “Don’t go often to night clubs and never accept drugs”. She looked at me in a way… she made me feel so old. She saw my first film and two, three years later, when I wrote A Faithful Man, I immediately thought about her: when I sent her the script, she called me back and said “I know this character very well: she’s exactly like me”. I knew it was a good sign. »
Laetitia, how was to work with her?
Laetitia Casta: «It was great, especially because of her age. In this film there’s a contrast between two women: Marianne has more wisdom and maturity, Eve represents youth and passion. I loved working with her.»