Passing through the Croisette, where his film was presented in the “Cannes Première” section, Mathieu Amalric came back with us to “Serre Moi Fort”, his new, moving production full of pretenses.
Four years after Barbara, Mathieu Amalric paints a new portrait of a woman with Serre Moi Fort: that of Clarisse (Vicky Krieps), who seems to abandon her family in the first images of the feature film, as the very short synopsis also says.
Presented in the Cannes Première category on the Croisette in July, Serre Moi Fort was one of the peaks of emotion of this 74th edition of the Festival. And it was the day after his official screening that his director came back with us, and a lot of intensity, on his new production, adapted from a play that had never been staged.
PLEASE NOTE – The story of “Serre Moi Fort” is based on a mystery and revelations that we had to discuss with Mathieu Amalric to discuss his film. The interview below therefore contains spoilers and we advise you, if you do not want to know anything before having seen the feature film, to go your way (or to stop very quickly), to better come back later.
DashFUN: What made you want to make a film of this play?
Mathieu Amalric : It was a friend who was supposed to edit it, Laurent Ziserman, who is an actor and theater director. Claudine Galéa had written it fifteen years ago but it had never been performed, so he wanted to do it, but life meant that he had to give it up. But he tells me about it, I buy it, and it’s like he’s passing the baton to me. I did feel something. I read it on a train, with this desire to hide in your coat, because you are ashamed to cry like that. It was this nerve that was affected.
I didn’t think it would go that far at all. But I gave it to Laetitia [Gonzalez] and Yaël [Fogiel], Les Films du Poisson, but without thinking too much about an adaptation because it is a very literary text. We tell ourselves that this is not possible, that there is no cinema in it. It plays on the spelling, there is sometimes like an ancient choir, it plays on the difference, there are superimpositions of voices, there are two times, there is imagination.
But what caught up with me was what she invented. It’s that thing. I don’t want to say more so as not to take away the small pleasure of discovery. And that’s why I can’t find any other summary than “It seems to be the story of a woman who leaves.”
And that’s literally what you see and feel in the first pictures.
SPOILERS START HERE
Is the piece constructed in the same way, with these questions that we ask ourselves until the end?
With her it is until the end. I had written the screenplay with this final revelation. And since the film called for different seasons compared to the mountain, it needed snow but also something that happens between winter and the spring thaw. It allowed me to climb between the two, and to react as a spectator. And I realized that if the narrator or the person making the film was ahead of the viewer, it took us away from the beauty, from the imaginative gesture of Clarisse.
Because it is ultimately Clarisse who makes a film. She is the one who makes the film. It is she who has this delirium. As in the melodramas, even if it was precisely a question of not necessarily filming the tears that one can imagine, but rather this woman who has beautiful tactics. She finds stuff.
And not to put a final revelation – because after twenty-five minutes, we feel that there is something strange – allows the public to be like her: in denial and belief. Like a spectator who believes what he sees when he knows it is not true. But at the same time it’s so good to believe it. What matters is this reversal. Like when she says “By being away, I bring them back to life”. This about-face grabbed me and I told myself that the melody was almost in a match, when she dialogues in the head of her husband played by Arieh Worthalter.
All this until there is no more imagination, at the very end when she sells the house – which is good – and gets back on the road. The first words of the film are “We start again”. And the last is “We start again”. It’s an embrace in perpetuity. I told myself that it is also a shareable and common gesture because we are crazy. We are as crazy as we can be during a romantic separation.
People got to see it twice, and that was one of the big questions: do we cry more knowing or not knowing.
There is also a form of denial …