In “To Custody”, Thomas Gioria plays a teenager terrorized by his violent father. A complex first role that the actor brilliantly took on, with a lucidity that amazed Léa Drucker and Denis Ménochet.
Up to the hilt: an oppressive thriller
In the first scene of Up to the hilt, two divorced parents find themselves facing a judge. The latter reads the testimony of their son Julien (Thomas Gioria), who expresses his wish to stay with his mother Miriam (Léa Drucker) and his big sister Joséphine (Mathilde Auneveux). The boy no longer wants to see his father Antoine (Denis Ménochet), who terrorizes him.
After this confrontation, Antoine’s incomprehension continues to grow throughout the film, as does his family’s fear. The drama gradually turns into an anxiety-provoking thriller, where the tension provoked by the father spreads silently, until the thrilling end.
To build this project on domestic violence, which follows the short film Before losing everything Xavier Legrand carries out a long documentation work, collecting many testimonials, in particular with a judge for family affairs as well as in support groups for violent men. During the writing, the director also relies on three references: Kramer versus Kramer, The Night of the Hunter, and shining.
Released in 2018, Up to the hilt wins four Caesars the following year: Best Film, Best Actress for Léa Drucker, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Editing.
The concern of Denis Ménochet
In the feature film, Léa Drucker, Denis Ménochet, and Mathilde Auneveux all take over the roles they held Before losing everything. Thomas Gioria succeeds Miljan Chatelain. On the set, the young actor bluffs his partners.
Asked by 20 minutes in 2018, Denis Ménochet explains that he had fear of traumatizing the adolescent during the shots:
I scolded him as soon as Xavier cut the plugs so as not to really scare him. I didn’t like the feelings my character stirred up in me and I always worried about traumatizing my young partner.
Thomas Gioria: the revelation of the film
But the actor is very fast surprised by the lucidity of Thomas Gioria, which was then only his first film experience. He adds to France Inter :
At first he was a little scared. I bought a ball. I gave the lines and he sent her back giving her line and I sent back louder. I put a bit of violence into it, to keep it fun, but it was mostly for me in fact, he had it all figured out.
He blew me away from day one, on his reverse shots. He was crying and he understood that at the “cut” it was only the game before and that afterwards we were going to play UNO, football…
Léa Drucker declares for her part:
I was disturbed by what we had to go through together on this film. I tried to protect him especially towards the end and at the same time, I quickly understood that we were both involved in this story.
The actress also salutes “all the talent of this young boy”:
(He) carries the weight of this role also on his shoulders and who does it marvelously well, with a lot of sensitivity.
Thomas Gioria has since toured Worship, Madeleine Collins, and the series Young and glory.