It’s a love story as we rarely see, a tender romance whose sweetness composes with the bitterness of reality, and which is the beating heart of the film “Les Jeunes Amants”. We met Carine Tardieu and Melvil Poupaud to talk about this story, its origin, its beautiful characters, and its shooting.
The Young Lovers tells the story of Shauna and Pierre, a love story between a 45-year-old father and a woman 26 years his senior. With finesse and elegance, its director Carine Tardieu makes a film where the age difference, while being central to the reality of this passion, is in reality only a pretext for a deeper story about love and what it reveals to individuals. A film that also has a particular origin, where love and death co-exist. We had the chance to meet Carine Tardieu and Melvil Poupaud, moving in the role of Pierre, to ask them a few questions.
Carine Tardieu, you co-wrote all your films, but for The Young Lovers, you had to deal with a particular genesis.
Carine Tardieu: This is a story that happened to the mother of Sólveig Anspach, who at the age of 75 had met a much younger man, a doctor. She lived this loving and carnal passion in a very intense way, which had upset Sólveig. Her mother had literally summoned her to tell her: “I met a man, and he is your age”. Sólveig was very moved and happy for her mother, even though at that time she did not have such a fulfilled love life.
Sólveig knew she was dying, or in any case very ill, when she launched this film project with screenwriter Agnès de Sacy. They wrote a very quick first draft, it was a race against time. They could not reach the end but Sólveig wanted, just before his death, to have the promise that the film would be made despite everything and that a woman would direct it. Sólveig died, and shortly after Agnès and her producer offered me to direct The Young Lovers.
How did you receive this proposal?
CT: After a first step back, I ended up saying yes, on the condition of making a story a little brighter. In the beginning, the story that I had read was more twilight, I brought it I believe towards more light. What really touched me was this idea that as long as we’re alive, we can experience anything, not just love, for that matter. There is no age to discover yourself, to experience new things.
Eventually, Shauna, I imagined it might be like her first real love story. The little she says about herself, we understand that she had a husband, but that it was not crazy either, that she devoted herself mainly to her work, and all of a sudden she discover what it is to be loved, with passion. I find that this story has a universal value, since in any case, regardless of age, falling in love is fragile, whatever the past and what we have experienced before.
Melvil Poupaud, you play Pierre, who falls in love with Shauna. How did you build this sincere but also enigmatic character?
Melvil Poupaud: We built Pierre with Carine, with the idea that he was both a guy who assured, who was a solid man, installed in his family and his couple, a good father, and then also a good doctor. A reassuring figure in short, but we realize little by little that he is more fragile than he seems, with a wound on which he has put a lid. To hold up these appearances, he put himself aside, took the blows in silence, and this meeting with Shauna will reveal this fragility. So reassuring, virile, solid, but also touching and a childish side that reveals itself.
As for my relationship with Fanny Ardant, it has always attracted me a lot, as a film buff and a spectator. And as an actor, I always dreamed of shooting with her. When I was younger, I imagined that I could play his son, but it didn’t happen. I remember when I was doing Laurence Anyways, Xavier Dolan said to me: “you could be a bit like Fanny Ardant, be that kind of woman“.
She’s an actress who has always inspired me, and there it was like a blessing to have this role with her, all these scenes, playing love and having this closeness. She has a special place and she seems to me to be in her career and her life as a very fulfilled woman. Even better, more charming, and more amazing than it has ever been. I believe that Carine managed to capture one of the finest moments of her career.