Post Release: "Post-Coitum"'s Brigitte Rouan
by Brandon Judell
The highlight of numerous film festivals this past year was
writer/director Brigitte Rouan’s sensational “Post Coitum,” an
exploration of a happily-married woman with children who falls in love
with a much younger man. This affair at first revives the zest Diane
Clover (also played by Rouan) feels for life but it eventually
devastates her until she, after much neurosis, is able to rebuild
herself. While Diane is trying to cope, her spouse and lawyer, is
defending a woman who’s killed her husband of many decades for cheating
Ms. Rouan’s previous films as a director were the prize-winning short
“Grosse” and the feature “Overseas.” She is however best known as an
actress. Besides having appeared in over 25 stage productions, she’s
also starred in the films of Jacques Rivette, Betrand Tavernier, Claude
Lelouch, Alain Resnais, Francis Girod, and Agnieszka Holland.
After three weeks in release by New Yorker Films, “Post-Coitum” is still
on the Indie Top Ten with 6 screens across the nation and a modest
indieWIRE: Your film was a major success in France, especially in
Paris. But let’s make believe there was no American market. Your “Post
Coitum” has played for four months in your homeland which was very good.
But let’s say that was that. Would this film be like a child you gave
birth to and would now send on its way so you could give birth to a new
Brigitte Rouan: Well, the feeling was quite different for my first
feature then for this one. With the first feature (“Overseas”), I was
very innocent I’d say, “Oh! My movie is in the theater. Oh, the people
are queuing and paying to look at it.”
And this time, you know in Paris, the movies are released on Wednesdays.
At ten past two o’clock, you know the destiny of a movie which is very
powerfully anxious. It’s the worst anxious you can feel. So as a
solution, you have to escape. You go far away or to drink or to cry.
(Laughs) Or to take pills. When I was on tour for the film, I was in
Provence, the producers phoned me all the time. I said, “Don’t tell me
the numbers. Don’t tell me until tonight. Maybe I have the night to
sleep with that. But don’t tell me now.” But they have a big smile. (She
speaks in goofy voice)”You don’t want us to tell you?”
But at the time I was very agitated. I was not so happy. It was a good
score. First week, second week, three weeks. But I did spend five years
to do the movie. I intended to have five months of plentitude, of
happiness. And it was not five months. It’s impossible. You know in
Paris, a film doesn’t make this. So I said, “It’s like a dream. A few
weeks and that’s it.”
So I was not very happy. After the third week, I had the impression, the
feeling that I was with a kid, and you have to put him with vitamins and
provisions. Glucose. Intravenous. So I did interviews and more
interviews and more interviews, and I go everywhere they wanted me to. I
did the whole thing, so I was exhausted.
Everybody said, “Calm down, Brigitte! It’s okay. We earn money.” I said,
“Well, but I want the movie to exist. It took so long to do it.” That’s
a report with suffering and pleasure. You want to have the same
pleasure. . . Like in the movie, you want the pleasure. You want the
quality between suffering and pleasure. You know what I mean? Because it
was so hard to do it, I wanted big pleasure. I had a big pleasure in
Cannes for example. In New York for example.
iW: So the New York Film Festival’s reaction to your film was very
Rouan: It was moving. All the people applauded. You were there?
Rouan: It was incredible. But it was 1000 people and they put me on the
. . . not on stage, but on a “corbeille,” you know, and with a light so
strong that I couldn’t see. So I said, “WHAHUH.” Then I wanted to go
backstage but my producer was “Stay! Stay! They stand up. Stay,
Brigitte.” So it was funny. I said, “Okay! Okay!” It was a moving time.
iW: Do your own relationships with men mirror those of the two women in
the movie? One finds happiness after she kills her husband.
Rouan: She didn’t find happiness.
iW: Even though she’s in prison, she finds a calmness she desires. She
seems to prefer her cell more then her long relationship with her now
murdered husband. She was so unhappy.
Rouan: Oh yes, she was completely depressed. If you kill your rival,
you’ll be in jail, but you’ll be okay with your person. If you kill your
love, you’re in jail, too, but you become crazy so they have to feed you
iW: So what’s your opinion of men?
Rouan: I like them.
iW: You need them?
iW: Do you like their brains also or just their . . . .?
Rouan: Yes. Yes. (Laughs) Come on. Well, except, we don’t have the
equivalent of instant sex. You have that expression. We don’t have that
iW: Which expression?
Rouan: Instant sex.
Rouan: I think we do it, but I think we don’t have the expression
because it is not a real reality. We are still romantic. Yes. I don’t
know why. It’s stupid, but it’s real. We have to approach people. I
think it’s a pleasure to desire someone in silence. You know. In secret.
It’s a good time. I do like men. I think the point of the movie and the
movie before and the movie before, they have in common that I think
happiness costs a lot. You have to pay to be happy. I don’t know why.
Don’t ask me. I don’t know why. (Laughs) But I am obliged to recognize
that. But in my movie, I wrote happiness costs a lot. You have to pay
for sex. I don’t know why.