In “This is love”, a father finds himself alone with his two daughters after the departure of his wife. A drama that echoes the experience of director Claire Burger, who went back to basics during filming.
That’s love : an overflowing family
With his first feature film Party Girl, co-produced with Marie Amachoukeli and Samuel Theis, Claire Burger unveiled the story of a sixty-year-old party girl who decides to abandon the nightlife to devote herself to her love and family life. Released in 2019, That’s love starts in reverse on a relationship that ends.
Civil servant in Forbach, Mario (Bouli Lanners) is distraught when his partner Armelle (Cécile Rémy-Boutang) leaves him after 20 years together to find himself. Their two daughters Niki (Sarah Henochsberg) and Frida (Justine Lacroix) react very differently to this separation. The first, aged 17, supports her father and aspires to independence, while her little sister, 14, resents him and lets her anger burst.
Despite his clumsiness, Mario does everything to understand them, seeks appeasement and refuses resentment towards his ex-wife, even hoping for his return. A poignant drama that plunges the viewer into a family that is falling apart, That’s love showsa disarming accuracy.
A very personal film
An accuracy that owes a lot to the performers and to the look that the director poses on them. To write her characters and their powerful bonds, Claire Burger draws on her own experience. She tours in particular in her hometown of Forbach, and more precisely in the house she grew up in. A return to basics that she had not initially considered, but which then seemed obvious to her. During the promotion, she explains :
I couldn’t bring myself to shoot elsewhere. There was something moving and restorative for me in filming this space linked to my childhood, making the actors evolve there. I wanted to speak with as much sincerity and privacy as possible about a situation that may be considered trivial, but which is dramatic for many families as it arises.
The break between Armelle and Mario also comes from the experience of the filmmaker, who saw her parents separate. However, Claire Burger tried to move away from his feelings, in order to be able to develop the different points of view as well as the complex and nuanced emotions of its protagonists:
To tell this story, I had to get out of my subjectivity, imagine how this separation had been experienced by the other members of my family. I took great pleasure in freeing my characters from the question of reality or truth to lead them to live their own story.
The portrait of a sensitive father
If he portrays the reactions of the four family members, That’s love Bend over more on Mario’s gaze, formidably embodied by Bouli Lanners. A father who looks like Claire Burger’s. The director confides about him:
I wanted to portray a delicate, sensitive, tender man, far from clichés of virility. I was brought up by a man like that. For the character of Mario, I was inspired by my father, in his personality, his relationship to fatherhood and especially to transmission. It was her education, and in a way her feminism, that allowed my sister and I, I believe, to feel strong as women, and then for my part, to want to become a filmmaker.