Gustave Kervern and Benoît Delépine occupy a place as precious as it is unique in French cinema. Pillars of the cult show Groland, regular suppliers of absurd and often brilliant comedies for the cinema, we met them for their new film “At the same time”.
At the same time is the tenth film by director duo Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern, a new comedy after Clear history, in which they paint an absurd and hilarious collaboration between two politicians, literally glued together by a group of radical feminists. A film where their devastating humor mixes with a relevant and well-founded criticism of our society. We met them to talk about this new film, their approach, their actors Jonathan Cohen and Vincent Macaigne, etc.
Your new comedy The same time, beyond its comic force, denounces certain traits of our society but without malice, without cynicism. Basically, would there be melancholy in your approach, or perhaps a sadness?
Benoit Delépine: I don’t know, I would say that there is perhaps a form of general sadness, but enlightened by fits of laughter, explosions of laughter, everything is so absurd. And it gets funny. It’s like in our show Groland, we pull the rug ourselves in a certain way, laughter remains the solution despite everything. In these bursts of laughter, we see the problems, we see this absurdity, we say it and we try to explain it. But to find solutions to these problems is another pair of sleeves…
In your new comedy The same time, you have the crazy idea of literally sticking two characters together. Was it easy to set up?
comics: In terms of comedy, it’s a recipe as old as the world, with the white clown and the august, the films of Veber, the fact that two guys stay together against their will… But it was not easy to propose an original development in this regard.
So one day we had the idea of sticking them together, but telling ourselves it was impossible to do, and the more we said to ourselves that it was impossible, the more we wanted to do it.
We managed to make the situations, the dialogues, the characters, all of that seem playable.
Gustave Kervern: We had big doubts during the preparation of the film, the others had them too. We had difficulties putting it together, but fortunately, the actors never doubted, either before, during, or after, and that helped bring the project to fruition. But until the last moment, we said to ourselves: “Can two guys stuck together really work? “.
On the physical side of the thing, we tested it with friends in a garage in Toulouse, it seemed to work, then we saw it with the actors. As directors, the idea was that it shouldn’t seem creepy or ridiculous, and we got there, we even forget at the end that they’re glued, we only see these two characters and their dialogue, we don’t think more about their preposterous position.
comics: In writing and directing, it was a challenge. The incongruity of the situation first, then having these two characters glued together, which has never happened in the cinema. So we had to find original frames, and manage to show them one by one when it’s a priori impossible. We liked it a lot during the filming, we never got bored or felt like we were redoing what we had already done in our previous films.
How did you choose your two main actors, Jonathan Cohen, and Vincent Macaigne?
G.K.: We never try out, never read, never rehearse. We barely saw them twice before filming. Once at costume trials, to see if it worked, and then we moved on to filming. Originally we had to do The same time with Denis Podalydès and Bouli Lanners, but they couldn’t come.
comics:: They were ready and enthusiastic.
G.K.: They are the ones who made us want to make the film, when people told us “no”, but we held on. Then, it turned out that we were nominated for the César 2021 for Best Screenplay. It was at the time of confinement, everything was closed and empty, and we were almost alone at the exit…
comics: Only the winners of the César are entitled to a taxi, the losers are entitled to nothing at all. So we found ourselves on the sidewalk, in the rain, with the other losers. And among those, we chose almost all the actors who are at The same time.