Unforgivable is the story of Francis (Andre Dussolier, Micmacs, Tell No One) is a successful crime writer who moves to Venice to work on his next novel. When he meets model-turned-real-estate-agent Judith (Carole Bouquet), he is instantly infatuated. Francis and Judith eventually marry and move to a remote house on Torcello Island but Francis’ newfound happiness hinders his writing. Obsessing over what Judith does while at work, he hires a young ex-convict to investigate. As Judith’s sexual past is revealed both men become increasing fixated on the mysterious woman. Set against the beautiful backdrop of Venice, Unforgivable examines the consequences of unresolved past relationships and their far-reaching effects into the future.
The following is an interview with Carole Bouquet, the actress of Unforgivable, playing Judith.
Bijan Tehrani: What interested you about the part of Judith and what enticed you to play the role?
Carole Bouquet: The director, Andre, that was definitely the first choice; I wanted to work with him for a long time and we couldn’t find something that was for me, so I might have said yes even not liking the
script, because I really like his work. When I read the script, I was really anxious because I wanted it to be good so bad, and I was very happy with it. It even got better and better because he rewrote it for a year and when I arrived on the set I was very happy: very happy to work with him and very happy about the script. Everything was a really wonderful adventure, and it is not always like that in movies, but sometimes it is like a small miracle and that was the case with this film.
BT: Playing a part like this, a character that has so many different layers, always seems to be challenging. How difficult was it to play this part?
CB: I never take it as a challenge, but as a gift, because it is so boring when you do something that is too easy. For instance in some comedies, of course, it has to stay on the same level as the rest of the film and, though that type of work is necessary and is fine sometimes, it is such a treasure and gift if you have something more to do. It is more difficult, in fact, to do the simpler roles. The more complex work is actually easier is because it is already written in the script—so if the stuff is not from scratch it is already such a relief; you only have to put your feet in it and that is it, you work with the costumes. It is so much better when it is complex.
BT: From what I have heard, the director is a very strict person when it comes to the acting. How flexible was he with you and your part?
CB: Very, extremely strict; but at the same time, he does not arrive on the set knowing what he wants, he is testing you. If you impose on him, he will not like that, you have to be losing yourself
with him and be at ease with him. His rhythm is completely different from one thing to another, so you have to adapt to that. Sometimes he would do forty takes because he is not happy with the script by the
lines, by the way he is framing it, or because he had to do a lot of work with actors. So sometimes it is not on you as an actress, you arrive and he is just going. He will say that this is your script and your lines and what can he do; but I do not take it personally. In some instances, a very difficult scene goes can be finished quickly, while a very easy one goes very slow because he is really taking it step-by-step and scene-by-scene. He does not have an idea of the scene before he is on the set, most of the time he is building it with you, he is really shooting it with you, and you have go with it.
BT: With most well-known performers, you start to identify with the actors on the screen instead of the characters and a film can lose its freshness. With your portrayal of Judith, I was captured by the performance and it was very fresh; how did you manage to do this?
CB: I have no idea; I will take that as an enormous compliment! I guess it just has to do with the pleasure I had making the film, when it is not difficult. When you enjoy doing a movie, when you enjoy being with a director and you trust him also, you have much more freedom to go for it. You follow the adventure and you follow him because this is his movie, and you want to get him what he wants for the film—not what I want, I don’t give a damn about that. When I was in Venice shooting with him, I was already happy, so I wanted to make him happy and deliver with the proper performance.
BT: How much did shooting in Venice and being in that city help you to get into character?
CB: Enormously, enormously. It played a huge part in it; for the pleasure that I had and the beauty that I saw, and the way I was seeing it—in a very exclusive way and a very private way. Also,
don’t forget that Venice is an Island. Everyone forgets about that, but the rhythm of an island is a slow one, so it gets into you after a moment. My pleasure with shooting in Venice was a big part of what you saw on screen—I was happy. While filming, sometimes you are happy and sometimes you are disappointed, but whatever the difficulty was I could not care less because I was happy to be there. Every day was like a gift; whatever hardship I had was nothing to compare to how I felt being there with Andre, doing this movie.
BT: How was it like working with the other Andre who played Francis?
CB: I love my two Andres, and they are both very anxious men in very different ways. I could be an anxious person, but there is no way I’m like them—I was like clown on the set sometimes. Dussollier does not like doing the scenes by himself; he likes the director to utilize him as he sees fit and give plenty of direction. I was mesmerized that a man of 60 was still asking so many questions and was still so fragile; it was a great experience. I had to take care of both of my Andres; sometimes I was a sister and sometimes I was a mother, so I had to play around.
BT: With the young girl you had such wonderful scenes together, what was it like working with her?
CB: She is very talented. She did something very difficult because Andre and I we were on the set together every day pretty much, and I feel that when you have a main part in the movie, it is easier. She had a busy schedule, so she would arrive sometimes for two days and then leave, and then come back for two days; it is difficult because you are not with the crew all the time. In spite of this, she was so, so good. The better they are, the better it makes you—that is the thing even in life. I need them and their guidance. I really need the other actor and when they are good, I get better.
BT: I think this is one of the nicest films that I have seen about Venice. What did you think after you watched the finished film for the first time?
CB: I called him and I said that I was so proud of him; I was so moved because that is what I shot. Sometimes you are so disappointed, but in this case I knew when I was on the set every day that the whole cast and crew got it, and we were making something great from the beginning. I knew that the movie was there, I just knew it. I was not surprised, I was just happy, and what I liked so much about that movie was the generosity. Andre is not a young man, he is close to 70 now, and he is kind and honest, he is almost like a teenager. When an artist is being genuine on what he says, it is really very touching and great to watch.
BT: Could you tell us about your next project?
CB: That is done already; I did an adaptation of a French book called Mauvaise Fille, which means “bad daughter”, in fact. It was a best seller and, of course, I am doing the daughter because it is a relationship between mother and daughter. It is the true story of the relationship between a young girl, who becomes pregnant, and her mother, who she begins speaking to for the first time in years. She had left home when she was a very small child because her mother was incapable of taking care of her because she was a drug addict, and finally when they gather again, the mother is diagnosed with cancer and the pregnant daughter does not dare to tell the mom, so they cannot share any intimacy because of these mounting obstacles. It was a difficult role, but one that was very rewarding.