Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Pierre Darroussin play two Charolais breeders in the dramatic comedy “La Ritournelle”. In order to be credible, the actors were able to count on the invaluable advice of the owners of a farm, who notably guided them for a scene where error was not allowed.
La Ritournelle : Isabelle Huppert says goodbye to routine
After Copacabana, Isabelle Huppert reunited with director Marc Fitoussi in 2014 with La Ritournelle. In this dramatic comedy, the actress plays Brigitte Lecanu, a cattle breeder in Normandy. Within the couple she forms with Xavier (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), with whom she manages their farm, weariness becomes an increasingly serious problem. The farmer is subjected to the incessant remarks of her companion, who is for his part reproached for his inability to show firmness.
During an evening organized by their young neighbor Marion (Anaïs Demoustier), Brigitte falls under the spell of Stan (Pio Marmaï), a Parisian passing through the region. Shortly after, she left for the capital in order to regain some freedom and with the hope of meeting Stan again.
His stay is not going as planned. In Paris, Brigitte discovers Stan’s true nature and has an unlikely and joyful encounter with Jesper (Michael Nyqvist), a Danish dentist. For his part, Xavier suspects that something is wrong and decides to start looking for his wife.
Marina Foïs, Audrey Dana and Jean-Charles Clichet complete the cast of La Ritournelle. After Pauline detective, Marc Fitoussi moves away from the comic register to evoke the dead point reached in a couple, without renouncing lightness and the energy of his previous feature film.
Another facet of the rural world according to Marc Fitoussi
The director’s desire to film the rural world was born after a stay in Burgundy, with the parents of a friend. Themselves breeders of Charolais cattle, they completely overturn the stereotypes vis-à-vis farmers then present in the mind of the filmmaker, and give him the idea of the characters of Brigitte and Xavier. Asked by Allocine, Marc Fitoussi confides during the promotion of La Ritournelle :
I wanted to inscribe this story (…) in this bucolic setting in the rural world, which in the end is rarely shown in the cinema. Or at any rate when it is shown it is shown in a bit of a way, not negative but alarmist. (…) There are, however, farmers who have prosperous farms who are true entrepreneurs. (…) The film is not a documentary on the rural world. It’s more of a setting, a context, and the plot is elsewhere. But it was good to be able to insert some documentary elements in this film.
Documentary elements which notably pass through Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Pierre Darroussin’s mastery of daily actions breeders. For this, they can count on the advice of Mathilde and Gabriel Bernard, who put their farm at the disposal of the film crew. Mathilde Bernard explains about their involvement in the project:
Our role was to organize the presence of animals in the right place.
A profession that cannot be improvised
The two Charolais breeders also train the actors the behavior to adopt during calving. Gabriel Bernard adds on this subject:
It was still necessary to give some advice to the actors because you cannot improvise a breeder and calve like that at a moment’s notice. It is not so simple.
A defining moment for Jean-Pierre Darroussin, who also drew on his childhood memories in Berry, where he lived for several months on his uncle’s farm. During an interview for LCI, the actor ensures:
It was impressive but I went there armed with my memories and advice from a breeder. We shouldn’t screw up or let ourselves be overwhelmed by emotion: we were only allowed one take. That said, the hardest part was really the scene of the Charolais competition (which opens the film, editor’s note): you have to surpass yourself to show authority with a 1.5 ton bull!
On screen, the illusion works perfectly.