Emmanuelle Bercot once again brings together Catherine Deneuve and Benoît Magimal in “De son vivant”, a melodrama whose power comes above all through the talent and work of its performers. Meeting with the actor and the director.
This is his third collaboration with Catherine Deneuve and Benoît Magimel. For During her lifetime, Emmanuelle Bercot once again brings together her two favorite performers. The director cuts them a tailor-made melodrama and tells the story of a mother who accompanies her 39-year-old son during the last months of his life. Shown out of competition at the 74th Cannes Film Festival, the film was received to the applause of an audience moved to tears, but for the filmmaker, the message is clear: In his lifetime is a celebration of life.
“I always knew I wanted to make a bright, happy death movie, said Emmanuelle Bercot, met in a Parisian hotel. I wanted to show how, even in suffering, one can find joy and peace.”To portray the hero in the most organic way possible, she relies on the talent of Benoît Magimel. The actor delivers a striking performance that never sinks into pathos. “Emotion galvanizes, he says. When we have been subject to strong emotions, there is an even more intense desire to live. ”
The filming of the film was divided into two parts and lasted over a year – in November 2019, Catherine Deneuve suffered a stroke on set. This long period, rather unusual for this type of project, was the opportunity for Benoît Magimel to dive into his role. “It’s not me who came to him, it’s Benjamin [le prénom de son personnage, NDLR] who came to me, he specifies. During that time, I lived with him. It happened to me during shootings to master a character only months after turning. We get tired of integrating gestures at the time, whereas we do not master it until 3 months later. It is this time that is necessary. You need to embody and to embody you have to integrate it into your DNA.”
Although reduced in space – the character of Benjamin is often lying on a hospital bed – the role is no less physical. Benoît Magimel explain to AlloCine have lost about sixty kilos. “Cumulated over one year of course”, Adds Emmanuelle Bercot jokingly. The actor compares his preparation to that of a top athlete, with “crazy pressure”And the fear of“not to be taken seriously”. “It was anguish. I’m in my 40s, so it’s harder to lose weight. I had to go on 3 diets and from morning to night you only live in there.”
To succeed, the relationship of trust between the director and the performer is essential. “You can’t do things by snapping your fingers, you need someone who looks at you and who knows, he emphasizes. Emmanuelle didn’t want to film a physical decline, she wanted to make it beautiful, it’s a real bias.”
I don’t like lukewarm things and I like to push them to excess.
Benoît Magimel and Emmanuelle Bercot are accustomed to extreme roles. The first sign a beautiful one with In his lifetime and the second was often illustrated in perilous exercises, as in My King by Maïwenn, a film for which she received the Best Actress Award at Cannes in 2015. This interest, the actress and director justifies it by “questions of nature”:“I’m not a measured person, I don’t like lukewarm things and I like to push them to excess. ”
The challenge of difficult roles
“In the movies I always tell impossible things, but as an actor even more, she continues. It’s galvanizing and I like the idea of performance, of trying to surpass yourself. When you tackle roles like these, you don’t know if you’re going to get there. It’s a lot of emotional tension throughout a shoot, so it’s sporty and also fun. What are we going to come out of ourselves that we did not assume of ourselves?”A state of mind shared by Benoît Magimel:“Sometimes when I read the script I ask myself, ‘How am I going to carry a role like this?’”
After 33 years of career, the actor admits to having changed the way he approaches his roles. “In my first films, for 15 years, I liked to create and compose characters. I loved as soon as it got away from me. Time passes and we have a subject in ourselves, acquired with experience, that we want to share. ” As an example, he cites …