An interview with Christophe Honoré, director of BELOVED

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Starring Catherine Deneuve and (her real-life daughter) Chiara Mastroianni, Beloved, this sly and exquisitely romantic musical drama from Christophe Honoré (LOVE SONGS, DANS PARIS) spans over three decades as it follows a mother and daughter’s misadventures in love. In the ‘60s, Madeleine (Ludivine Sagnier) leaves Paris to re-join her Czech husband Jaromil (Rasha Bukvic) in Prague, but his infidelities and the arrival of Russian tanks in the city lead her back to France. Thirty years later we follow the romance of Madeleine’s daughter, Vera, who falls in love with a musician (Paul Scneider) in London who is incapable of devoting himself to her. Meanwhile in Paris, a re-married Madeleine (Deneuve) has rekindled her love affair with Jaromil (Milos Forman). Louis Garrel and Paul Schneider also star in this light-hearted but ultimately moving exploration of the changing nature of relationships, with music by Alex Beaupain (LOVE SONGS).

Bijan Tehrani: How did you come up with the idea of the film?  This is a very modern musical but it has its roots in classic musicals of the 50’s and 60’s.
Christophe Honoré: With this movie, I wanted to understand what it is that makes my generation different from my parents generation. I don’t mean this in terms of technology, or ideology, but in terms of how we feel and the way we live. My parents viewed love and the future with hope – but I viewed love and the future with fear. That was the starting point for the film.
I am not sure this film is a musical comedy and I would not say that it has its roots in musicals of the 50’s and 60’s. They’re not big performance numbers – instead, they’re meant to emphasize the introspective moments. I want to make the viewer feel- I don’t want to impress them.

BT: Having Catherine Deneuve who has a background in French musicals, did that factor in picking her for the part or did you have her in mind when you wrote it? 
CH: I did not choose her because she had worked with Jacques Demy but principally because I wanted to have her work with Chiara in a film. In Demy’s Films she actually did not sing, she had a double. She was therefore delighted to use her real voice to sing in this movie.

BT: This is such an interesting love story, to me this is the first time I saw a love story between a straight woman and a gay man, it was so beautifully done.  Is the film more about love and survival?
CH: I think it’s about impermanence. All of my films are, in a way- with love and with sex, my characters are always uncertain, indecisive. The future always holds possibility, but no certainty.

BT: How were the songs for the film picked?
CH: They were not chosen, they were composed for the film. I work very closely with the musician Alex Beaupain. His songs are an integral part of the development of the screenplay.

BT: How was it working with Catherine and her real life daughter?
CH: They have wanted to work on a film together like this for a long time – especially Catherine, because she said it’s the easiest way to spend time together. I’ve worked with Chiara on several films before, and we’re quite close, which facilitated working with Catherine. I allowed myself to approach Catherine in a way that I might not have had Chiara not been there. Working with them was easy and enriching. There being mother and daughter aside, they are both great actresses, and in the end, that it is the most important.

BT: What projects do you have coming up?
CH: I hope to start shooting in a spring. A project which is an adaptation of Ovide’s « Metamorphoses » .

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About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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