“Brother and sister”, Arnaud Desplechin shows hatred, “the unhappy face of love”

Warning: this movie may leave clues. With “Brother and Sister”, French director Arnaud Desplechin is running for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It tells the story between a brother writer, cunningly played by Melvil Poupaud, and a brother actress, enthusiastically played by Marion Cotillard. Since adulthood, they have hated and avoided each other. When their parents face themselves facing death after a serious accident, Alice and Louis are confronted, despite themselves, with their hatred. Maintenance.

RFI : What is the first image that comes to your mind regarding the topic “ brother and sister »Before the shooting of the film ?

Arnaud Desplechin : I don’t know if I have images in my head… I have a huge weakness as a director: I have no visual imagination. Nothing. For that, I don’t know how to shoot in the studio. I have to shoot on location, because that’s the truth. For example, at the beginning of the film, Melvil is exiled to the Pyrenees. When I arrived, I had no idea what I was writing. As I write, I have no image in my mind. Suddenly, I came to a house with no water, no electricity, no telephone. And I said to myself, here it is, this is the first picture in the movie: these mountains to the west with this house lost in the middle. There, I said to myself: this is the movie. It’s by meeting reality that it produces images of me. It is not the writing that produces the images. Writing sparked my desire to move. For others, I have to wait for the encounter with reality so that it awakens my desire for an image.

Melvil Poupaud, you play the brother in the film. At the same time, you are also a father, a son, a lover, a writer… What is the difference if you are a brother compared to other roles? ?

Melvil Poupaud : It’s a tough question, but for this film, it’s all hard. Every scene, I can approach it with great fear, with fear of the stage, because there is no rest. It’s not a movie where you say to yourself: ah, this scene can be cool… or in two weeks, have a tough meeting. From the first scene, and until the end, these are complicated times. Also, when Arnaud said he was waiting for the encounter with reality with the images, I think that at the time of filming as well, he was someone who didn’t plan. He doesn’t come to the set with his plan he has set and then he goes home. He was a man who invented and created-almost like a jazz musician who would improvise solos and suddenly leave the verse longer. It’s a way to live and be with him as much as he can and try to keep going. There isn’t even one dimension of the task that I find more difficult or closer or farther away from me. It was a set. The first time Arnaud talked to me about the paper, he told me: it’s a mountain. Actually, there’s this scary part and at the same time, once you start, you’re slowly progressing …

Melvil Poupaud and Marion Cotillard of “Brother and Sister”, to run for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. © Cannes Film Festival 2022

Cinema has always emphasized the relationship between brothers, with sisters, between father and son, between mother and daughter, but rarely between a brother who hates each other. Do you feel that the subject of your movie is like a blank cinema page ?

Arnaud Desplechin : No, because I like to think that there is a very strong hatred that Alice feels for her brother, and where she is lost. And he is too. However, this hatred has only one value, because there is an almost incest part of their love for each other. This is the unhappy face of love. Mao ra na. Thinking about it, I like to think Flows of Love of John Cassavetes saying to me: behold, there is a brother and a sister. He’s angry, he’s angry. And they love each other. For them (Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud), it’s more complicated …

At the center of the film, there is animosity between a brother and a sister. Is the relationship between a brother and sister different from other social relationships, for example more mysterious, more mysterious or more mythological. ?

Melvil Poupaud : In fact, there is little to all of that. Besides, there is a mystery. It wasn’t like he had done her or her something against him that broke a bond. It’s something to take, which takes time. It’s a visceral hatred, but one that has come back a long time. That’s why we forgot the origin. It’s like some myth or game of ancient tragedies where suddenly something happens and you move in the middle of things. But we know there is this tragedy. And after that, you have to liven up this drama and continue the story, in this case towards the light… So there’s this mythological side, something destructive.

Your movies are usually fed by your loved ones in life. You are the eldest in the family. There is a brother novelist. What is your “ strengthening »Against hatred ?

Arnaud Desplechin : It was a feeling that was a bit foreign to me. The remedy I can think of is the futility of life. There is a little scene that is at the heart of the film. It was one of the first scenes that popped into my mind when I started writing. It’s a scene from a supermarket. Alice runs and she literally collides with her brother. They collided with each other and they fell. You are suddenly in front of someone else, either something that is still foreign to you, or someone similar to you. The two will go together.

Sudden laughter. In that laughter, I saw the end of hatred. For when you take food, how can you say, ” I hate you “. I don’t have time, there’s still work to be done. For me, work is the solution to hatred. This is the encounter. It’s something I believe in – for hate and for love. Lacan said that love is tuché, when you catch someone. Love is never just, and neither is hate. If you catch someone, that person is like a rock. There is nothing more beautiful than when you take the pebble and you kiss it and you say: How beautiful I fell for you.

Brother Louis (Melvil Poupaud) and his wife Faunia (Golshifteh Farahani) of
Brother Louis (Melvil Poupaud) and his wife Faunia (Golshifteh Farahani) in Arnaud Desplechin’s “Brother and Sister”. © Cannes Film Festival 2022

In the movie, your best friend is a Jew and he takes you to a synagogue. And your wife took you to a cave. Is it two spaces solutions “where” leak »Possibly related to your hatred ?

Melvil Poupaud : There is a form of love, because my wife, Faunia, has this knowledge, this culture, this love. When he took me to the cave, it was like a temple. There is something sacred. The link is sacred. I can be sensitive to that too. In the synagogue, my friend did not seek to convert me to Judaism, but he invited me to share this sacred moment. She thought maybe I, who had just lost my father, that it would touch me and heal. In fact, it is a link to the sacred, to the superiority.

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