“A movie bastard”: Virginie Efira at the heart of a thriller on domestic violence

On the occasion of the release of “Love and the Forests”, also presented at Cannes, here are five things to know about this thriller by Valérie Donzelli, with Virginie Efira and Melvil Poupaud.

What is it about ? When Blanche crosses paths with Gregoire, she thinks she’s meeting the one she’s looking for. The bonds that unite them are woven quickly and their story is built in anger. The couple moves, Blanche moves away from her family, her twin sister, opens up to a new life. But wire after wire, she finds herself under the influence of a possessive and dangerous man.

A new genre for Valérie Donzelli

Love and the Forests is adapted from the novel of the same name by Éric Reinhardt, which Valérie Donzelli read while filming Marguerite and Julien (2015). The director found immediate personal resonances there, like the disposition that one has not to fully express what one feels for fear of not being loved. She confides:

“But what really made me decide to adapt it was the scene where Grégoire Lamoureux makes his mea culpa after hearing on the radio the portrait of a man abusing his wife. How he turns the situation around to ask himself as a victim, and how this perverse ploy hits the bull’s eye, because the real victim of his actions does not know how to resist it.”

“But adapting this novel seemed difficult to me and I rejected the idea, without forgetting it. Then I made Notre Dame, a light film which was very restorative. And Nona and her daughters, my series on which I I learned a lot. Directing a series with so many characters while acting in it in record time was a real baptism of fire.”

“Nothing scared me after that. I wanted to come back to the cinema with a film where I would only be a director, and also with the desire to explore another genre.”

great actresses

Virginie Efira is surrounded by actresses that we see less of today, such as Virginie Ledoyen, Romane Bohringer, Laurence Côte, Nathalie Richard or even Dominique Reymond… While the interpreter of Blanche tours a lot: “I absolutely wanted Virginie, who is a star today, to play with actresses of the same caliber as her. I wanted Blanche to be surrounded only by actresses who have played in great films, actresses who reassure , which provide him with protection”says Valérie Donzelli.


Virginie Efira and Melvil Poupaud

A new cinematographer

This is the first time that Valérie Donzelli has worked with cinematographer Laurent Tangy. For this film, she felt she needed to renew her team: “Laurent has made films that are quite distant from me, but also The Event by Audrey Diwan, who is remarkably framed, all on the shoulder. We immediately got on well, he is very talented, very instinctive and we understand each other quickly”, recalls the director. She continues:

“We have plenty of tools at hand to use immediately when an idea arises or to find a visual solution to a question of staging. We dare, we try one thing and then another, sometimes a scene doesn’t work so we try a filter, a mirror, a reflection and then click, we find… It’s risky to do everything live, because you can’t undo anything in post-production. it allows you to catch the truth of the moment, in its freshness.”

Virginie Efira plays Blanche

To interpret Blanche, Virginie Efira began by evacuating any preconceived idea of ​​”the victim”, and sought to give a singular identity to the character. The actress explains: “So we rely on our own lives but without being aware of it, without formulating it, and without trying at all costs to model our interpretation on our personal experience.”

“It would be terrible if we were condemned to reproduce only things that we experienced! The biographies of each one, actors and characters, do not really matter so much. Our emotions, our memories, the memory of the body , it may represent a tiny part of our way of interpreting a role, but it is always good to take, they are as many doors of entry.


Melvil Poupaud

“A movie bastard”

For Grégoire Lamoureux, Melvil Poupaud sought to bring out in this character a rigidity, a “little gentleman” side. The actor thus thought of the characters of Claude Chabrol and Jean Yanne, but especially of Michel Bouquet in The Unfaithful Woman. He tells : “I wanted to create a movie bastard. Clean, dry, tense. A peaceful-looking man, but deeply black inside. Who thinks he’s going to control everything, master everything. That his wife is his wife, his car his car, his children his children. It corresponded to what Valérie had in mind, so we quickly understood each other.”

“She wanted Lamoureux to be stylish, not neutral, because there’s also a fairy tale side to her film that turns sour: she marries Prince Charming, and then Prince Charming turns out to be a wolf in disguise. atmosphere, chiaroscuro, tracking shots, this distressing house: all of this also gives a slightly unreal aspect. It carried us, Virginie and me, to move away from naturalism in the acting, to be in osmosis with the staging by Valérie, who also sought to free herself from naturalism through style and the mixture of genres: love drama, Hitchcockian suspense, storytelling, behind closed doors.”

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