Below Academy Award nominated director Rachid Bouchareb (“Days of Glory”) shares a scene from his drama “London River,” starring Brenda Blethyn (“Secrets and Lies”). The film follows two parents are they search for their respective children following the aftermath of the London bus bombings. It’s currently playing in New York and opens December 16 in Los Angeles.
This scene was a total improvisation. When we finished a scene earlier in the day, I saw this bench in the park and I decided to create an intimate moment with the actors.
For me, it was the first time in the movie when these two characters make a real connection. Our discussion was: how we could show this for the first time? And then we sat together on that bench and talked about what connections their characters might have coming from such disparate backgrounds.
She works the land; she’s a small farmer and he’s an arborist, working with the trees in the forest. We decided to use this commonality so that our characters could also discover that they have the same background–the land, nature, solitude. It was interesting to be sitting in the middle of the park having a discussion where we decided to invent this dialogue. It took only 45 minutes to shoot it because we didn’t use a lot of rehearsal. When you shoot these kinds of scenes I find that you cannot do a lot of rehearsing since they are all dialogue with small nuances. Then it’s invented between them, fresh and believable. You can’t rehearse something like this.
We did only one test and then shot one take on the close up and two takes on the wider shot. During the scene, Brenda wanted the make-up artist to add an injury (scratches) to her hand because her character was somebody who worked the land and she wanted to show how nature can be hard on a person. She saw the scratches on Sotigui’s hand and in the scene asks him how he got them and he improvises saying that it’s an injury of nature. He is saying that life, from the beginning, is hard and gives you scars.
This scene is so nice because it is the first time that they are together and fragile to each other. It is beautiful.