For “Le Daim”, Quentin Dupieux composes a very beautiful film duet with Adèle Haenel and Jean Dujardin. But his ultimately fruitful collaboration with the actress began with friction and may have never come to fruition.
The deer : Jean Dujardin and Adèle Haenel in a horrific delirium
In Quentin Dupieux’s unique filmography, there is horror movie. The deer, released in 2019, with Jean Dujardin and Adèle Haenel, was indeed designed and produced with this in mind. From this story that starts from an argument a priori grotesque – a man who wants to be the only one in the world wearing a jacket -, Quentin Dupieux draws a strange sensation, an absurd and frightening poetry that plays with the codes of slasher and dread. In the role of Georges, a man who immerses himself entirely in his loneliness and talks to his suede jacket – which gives him “a sick style” – Jean Dujardin leaves one of his best performances.
Facing him, Adèle Haenel plays Denise. A cinema and editing enthusiast who lives in a lost corner, and who will follow Georges and his obscure idea of shooting a film with his little camera. The Georges – Denise duo works very well. An alloy of two solitudes, between real colleagues of a fake project and fake lovers inhabited by a strange desire. Jean Dujardin says he went for it and said “yes” as soon as he met Quentin Dupieux and the pitch of the film. But it was not so simple concerning Adèle Haenel. If this one is an actress, she is however not for sale. And it is with great rigor that it studies the proposals made to it. From his first exchanges with the director, it was so close thatAdèle Haenel does not leave the project immediately.
“If you don’t want to do the movie, don’t.”
She never made a secret of it. For Adèle Haenel, everything is political, and in the causes she defends, feminism is at the forefront. She does not compromise on certain performances, which has earned the director and the actress a very complicated beginning of collaboration. She said it like this in an interview given to the newspaper Le Monde during the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
We don’t come from the same place. We don’t have the same political priorities. What I like about him is his sense of the absurd, this cinema of delirium. But let’s say he has a problem with the representations of female characters. And between us it started very rodeo. (…)
I read the script, and I write to Dupieux that things are not going well, that the character needs to be changed. He gets angry: “If you don’t want to make the film, don’t do it.” In the end, he listened to me, I transformed the character. I removed the “I love you”, the “You’re too strong”, the shovel rolls of the cold girl.
Adèle Haenel held firm and won. Indeed, it clearly appears in the image that Denise is not “stupidly” in love with Georges. If a vague attraction hovers, it is however unexplained and inexplicable, and this is what makes all the complex flavor of their duo. Why does she follow him? What is his own project? By taking his character out of the cliché of the fan girlthe actress did the film a favor by developing even more its strangeness. A fertile middle ground for the actress who can thus conclude: “I think we are both happy with the result.”