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Christophe Honoré on 'Beloved': "I think my characters are very free with their sexuality"

By Brian Brooks | Indiewire September 16, 2011 at 12:00PM

Spanning 50 years, over two hours and a stellar cast, "Beloved" (Les bien-aimés) by Christophe Honoré is quite the ambitious project, and fans of his well-received "Love Songs" from 2007 will notice doses of familiar ground, and his latest film is complete with playful sexual rendez-vous, stylized period costumes and sets, sporadic bouts of song, courtesy of long-time musical collaborator Alex Beaupain and underlying tragedy. [Editor's Note: This interview originally ran during the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. "Beloved" opens in select theaters this Friday via IFC Films, as well as on VOD.]
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"Beloved"
IFC Films "Beloved"

Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni have been in films together before, but this was certainly a film in which together they form a core of the film, do you think this was something they were looking to do generally? Did they say this was something they had been hoping for?

I'm a director because I've been a fan of movies and have seen movies since I was young. I didn't become a director because I woke up one day and said, 'I have to be a director.'

I'm very interested in French cinema, and Catherine Deneuve is French cinema, and I just had to work with Catherine Deneuve. I've also worked with her daughter, so I wanted to approach Catherine with this idea. And I think Chiara is also one of the best French actresses working today, so it was a great thing to put them in this movie together.

I think Catherine is often filmed at a distance because there's a lot of respect for her. And the fact that we had the two of them together, it was in some ways more intimate in a sense than usual because of the [dynamic] with her daughter. Of course when we first see Catherine on the bridge, she's seen more like an icon but after as the film goes along, Catherine is much closer up and into the character of being the mother to Chiara's character, Vera.

For me it was interesting because I could catch their looks and interaction with each other. I imagine for them it's probably hard for them to see it the same way as me because it's their own lives - no mystery for them. But for me it's interesting. Also because they are actually mother and daughter, I didn't feel the need to write a lot of extra intimacy because it's more accepted, so maybe I went a bit faster [than I would have otherwise].

"I think it's dangerous and incorrect though to present this movie as a musical."

You have used music from Alex Beaupain in a number of your films, what about his music speaks to you as a filmmaker?

My relationship with Alex is a story about our friendship. I've known him since we were teenagers - before we made movies together. For me, making movies allows me to live strong moments in life with people who are close to me. After "Love Songs," Alex wanted to do another musical comedy, a sort of "Love Songs Returns."

Personally, I didn't want to [do] another musical comedy. In France, if you do musicals then you are considered to be following Jacques Demy who was the standard-bearer of that genre there. But through songs, I feel it was way easier to express love and feelings than just through text. So that's why I've asked Alex to work with me.

I think it's dangerous and incorrect though to present this movie as a musical. It's really a movie where "sometimes the character sings." It's not what people might expect if they hear it's a musical, so we have to be careful.

How was it directing Milos Forman who plays the older version of Madelaine's first husband? Was it different from veteran actors?

I spoke with him on Skype and he said to me, "Well this might be the last time I can play the husband of Catherine Deneuve, so he came to Paris and I met him with Chiara in a cafe. He had this traditional veal meal in front of him. I swear, I've never seen someone eat so much as this man [Laughs]. He's an ogre. He said he came to France because his wife and doctor won't be able to bother him over what he eats. He would just goe to the set and does what he needs and then he can go eat what he wants... [Laughs]

I am of course very proud to have him. For me he is one of the best directors in the world. Strange in Milos career - similar to Polanski - they go and succeed in Hollywood and have a lot of demands. Milos is very respected and admired, but he's still not considered one of the world's best filmmakers, but I honestly believe one day he'll be considered one of the best directors. And having Milos Forman and Catherine Deneuve in the same picture, it really tells something about cinema itself, which I like very much.

This article is related to: Features, Interviews, Beloved







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