We had the chance to meet and hold the director Laurent Larivière at the Francophone Film Festival of Angouleme , which was held last August. He presented a preview of his first feature, I AM A SOLDIER (read our review HERE), with Louise Bourgoin and Jean-Hugues Anglade. He has produced five short films and has been a laureate of the Villa Médicis Outside The Walls for a theatre project.
He has spoken to us with sincerity, sensitivity and passion of his main character, Sandrine, and his way of working.
Can you tell us about your sources of inspiration for the main character, Sandrine, played by Louise Bourgoin ?
– Laurent Larivière : C‘is the character of Sandrine, who is the origin of my film, more than the traffic of puppies by himself. What interested me was to think about the meaning of the feeling of social stigma, the way we live with pride when you come back after being gone from home, and how one supports the other’s gaze in this feeling of failure.
This film is a very personal and authentic : me too, I left my social environment to go to Paris and do the cinema, and I struggled for a long time. The thread that runs through all my films, this is the great solitude. What I wanted to show in this film was the extent to which it was difficult to take one’s place in life, at which point it is difficult to learn not to respond to the desires of others, because we have a thirst for recognition. Sandrine, my character, take the place that his uncle offers him, without daring to recognize her own desires. It evens out, can not say no. But we can see it clearly in the film, it is easy for a person : his brother-in-law Tony crack and destroyed his house because he can do no more. We do not explain how to cope with the difficulties of life.
“The subject of I AM A SOLDIER, it is the acceptance of his own vulnerability, his own way of being in the world”
Only Peter the vet sees that she is not in his place, and truly sees her as she is, but she is not ready to receive this loving gaze on it. The subject of my film, it is the acceptance of his own vulnerability, his own way of being in the world. But to achieve this, it is necessary to sometimes break with family or friends. Waking up abruptly, self-destruct.
How did you get the idea to choose Louise Bourgoin to embody Sandrine ?
– Laurent Larivière : Je know Louise for a long time. And I wrote the role for her, because I was aware of its dramatic potential. I wanted to be the one that would reveal to the cinema. At the beginning, I wanted to get his opinion on the script without it to know that Sandrine, it was she ! And she was very surprised and happy too ! And it has very well embodied in this beautiful portrait of woman.
How do you work with your co-writer François Decodts ?
– Laurent Larivière : We’ve been friends for twenty years, he is a bookseller. Our sensitivities are close to, and it is important to find a partner with whom one is certain to speak of the same place, it is more rich with two. We are looking for the same things, without fear of ridicule. There is a ping-pong effect between us, the appropriation is not mechanical. When you are as a filmmaker, he must be careful not to take the desire of the co-screenwriter for his.
How much time have you set to write the screenplay ?
– Laurent Larivière : We put nine weeks to write the first version. And then we had eight months in which we were on other projects, a little frustrated. We turned to the seventh version of the scenario.
How have you lived this second projection (NB : the film was presented at Cannes in the un Certain Regard category) ?
– Laurent Larivière : During the screening of the film at Cannes , I had the pressure, it was a real whirlwind. Here, in Angouleme, it was very weird to be in the room, but I took really fun, it was very nice to be able to follow the story, see some of the details.
It is easy to be a part of the world of cinema, and you’re not coming ?
– Laurent Larivière : of course Not! However, Dominique Besnehard made me confident, and he produces me, this is not nothing anyway ! He had enjoyed the scenario. I have also benefited from the advance on recipe of the CNC.
What are your plans ?
– Laurent Larivière : I am going to present the film in several festivals (NB: the film has been selected at St Jean de Luz, Cambridge, Rabat). I have another film project, but the risk of course, this is to ensure that you do not repeat the same movie.
I AM A SOLDIER: CRITICAL
+ INTERVIEW with director LAURENT LARIVIÈRE • Original title :I am a soldier
• Production : Laurent Lariviere
• Screenplay : Laurent Larivière, François Decodts
• Main actors : Louise Bourgoin, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Anne Benedict
• Country of origin : France, Belgium
• Released : November 18, 2015
• Duration : 1h32min
• Distributor : The Covenant
• Synopsis : Sandrine, thirty years old, is forced to return to live at his mother’s home in Roubaix. Without a job, she agrees to work for his uncle in a kennel that turns out to be the hub of a trafficking of dogs from eastern countries. It is quickly gaining authority and respect in this male environment and win the missing money to his freedom. But sometimes the good soldiers will cease to obey.