Grégory Montel and Anaïs Demoustier are the headliners of “Chère Léa”, a new feature film by Jérôme Bonnell (“Le Temps de l’Aventure”, “A trois on y va”). A singular romance whose narration takes on a rare and delicate turn.
The story: After a drunken night, Jonas decides on a whim to visit his ex-girlfriend, Léa, with whom he is still in love. Despite their still passionate relationship, Léa rejects him. Distraught, Jonas goes to the cafe opposite to write him a long letter, shaking up his working day, and arousing the curiosity of the cafe owner. The day has only just begun …
DashFUN: Chère Léa is a love story, but told in a way like rarely in the cinema, through this letter and a certain temporality …
Anaïs Demoustier, actress (Léa): Yes, film time is a time that we rarely see in the cinema. It is indeed not the rupture, not the beginning of the story… I would say that it is perhaps the time for the resonance of a story. That is, when it is not yet really finished. Or that it is finished, but there is still so much left in itself that history is still existing in our lives.
We feel that this is the story of a passion. A story that must have been complicated and that it upset the protagonists, Grégory Montel and me. I have a small role in the film. I am seldom seen, but I knew that these were scenes where there were a lot of issues because of this story that had to be brought into existence without being so informed.
Grégory Montel, actor (Jonas): Yes, it’s a reminiscence, a remnant of something that we will have to manage, digest.
Jérôme Bonnell, screenwriter and director: When I started to imagine this story, I asked myself this question: what to do with this period of showing everything and seeing everything? What to do with this frantic consumption of images and information?
It seemed to me that the place of the filmmaker was more and more difficult to characterize. Trying to find a kind of source gesture, by telling myself: what is cinema? It is a framework where we take as much care in what we show as what we hide.
Passionate love fascinates me. I find it extremely difficult to film. There are beautiful examples in cinema, but quite rare in a very successful way, and when it is successful, it is unforgettable.
I told myself that it would be interesting to tell the off-screen of this passion, and that the off-screen tells it all the more. It is the story of a man who sits for a short time in a cafe, who writes a love letter to a woman he wishes to recover and who lives in the building opposite.
What he thinks is going to take him 15 or 20 minutes is going to take him the whole day, and that day is going to resonate with his entire life. A sort of underground balance sheet. This cafe, which will become the main setting of the film, will resonate deeply with what he experiences.
When we are in a state of loving suffering, or just suffering, or looking around, everything reminds us of what we feel. Coffee is wonderful for that. I love to watch what’s going on. I even stung entire dialogues upon hearing conversations!
So the film is all that at the same time. It is a big ambition for me to try to tell very big things through things which seem very small. To assume this thing there, with an apparent lightness. It’s something that touches me a lot.
As Jérôme Bonnell explains, Chère Léa is very interested in the notion of off-screen …
Anaïs Demoustier: The film leaves a lot of room for the viewer. Grégory Montel, throughout the film, writes a letter to his ex. In fact, we never have access to this letter. I saw the movie twice and each time I told myself what it was writing, and it was different things. The viewer can project whatever he wants into this letter! Project things from your own life too. It makes you want to write letters. It’s nice !
There are also secondary characters for whom we can imagine a lot of things in their life. These are characters who go, who come in this unique setting.
Grégory Montel: The off-screen is important because it supports the story. Everything that happens next has resonance for the story. It is both an inspiration for his letter, and at the same time, for the viewer, they are also elements of understanding, and it is perhaps an extension of what is going on in Jonah’s head. Where is it …