“Working with Isabelle Adjani was a dream”: François Ozon reunites the star and Denis Ménochet in his new film “Peter von Kant”

François Ozon has a real admiration for Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and fans of his cinema will remember from the start that in 2000 he adapted Gouttes d’eau sur pierre brûlées. This time, with the principle behind closed doors, he offers his re-reading of Petra von Kant’s Bitter Tears. Petra here becomes Peter … a sign that the filmmaker has made sure to reverse the protagonist’s gender. One freedom among many others that demonstrates a real regeneration.

Highly referenced film, Peter von Kant asks the viewer to accept the theatrical bias, in form but also in acting, voluntarily on the verge of extravagance. As long as we adhere, we discover a rather virtuoso exercise in the style where love, deception, jealousy and cinema merge.

Far from his performance of Until the Guard or the Next As Bestas, in which he embodies grubby men, Denis Ménochet leads the dance and makes you feel all the eccentricity of his character, but also his fragility when he falls in love with an unpredictable young boy.

By their side, we find Isabelle Adjani, who is having fun with her own picture and Hanna Schygulla, already on the poster of the original. The result is a well-thought-out film, perhaps not as striking as Grâce à Dieu or the teenage chronicle Summer 85, but demonstrates all the know-how of François Ozon, a director who is bound to always surprise us … with intelligence.

What was your motivation for returning more than twenty years later Water drops on hot stonesagainst Rainer Werner Fassbinder?

This film was born out of confinement, where I, like many directors, was panicked at the thought of being able to record again. I thought maybe we should make closed films with a small team, a single filming location …

So I thought back on Bitter tears by Petra von Kant which is primarily a play, and I started working on it with some anxiety since the film became cult. I told myself that in itself there was no reason to do it again, otherwise it was necessary to take a 180 ° turn. With this in mind, I therefore changed the gender of the three main characters.

I also had the intuition that this story was autobiographical, which Juliane Lorenz, Werner Fassbinder’s last wife, confirmed to me. She told me he was talking about his love story with Günther Kaufmann, one of his favorite actors. From there, I felt liberated.

But you keep the era, the 1970s …

I found that there were already many resonances with today’s world. Keeping a certain distance gives, as often, more energy. Finally, I really like this period and I wanted to have fun!

Your movie is like Fassbinders, a kind of cinematic UFO …

Yes. It’s a little radical, the opposite of everything being done today, and that was what attracted me. The desire was to play on the artistry, the theatrical, to create a slightly baroque work … Which did not prevent me from revealing the emotions and truth of the characters.

You also talk about the love of cinema …

For me, it’s a movie about love, but for Fassbinder, love is colder than death. For him, everything was mixed, he slept with his actors and actresses, and therefore it was necessary to talk about his relationship with the cinema. That’s why my conclusion is more optimistic than in Bitter tears, where Petra ends up on her own. In my movie, it’s work that saves Peter!

Isn’t hindered love ultimately the leitmotif of your filmography?

I do not know. What interested me here is the influence and above all the swing, as the dominance in the beginning is clearly on the side of the instructor, it is he who has the power over this young man who is seduced thanks to his social position and what he offers him. Then the relationship is reversed and the mouse takes its liberty.

Is it a situation that scares you that an actor may one day take over you?

I do not work with toxic relationships with comedians. I’m cash enough! Sometimes we quarrel and it can even be beneficial, but sadism does not come naturally to me.

But if I have someone masochistic in front of me, I adapt and react. There is no one way to instruct actors. I did not instruct Denis Ménochet in the same way as Isabelle Adjani … I prefer to work in complicity.

How did Isabelle Adjani get to the project?

Working with her was a dream … Inaccessible! I have known her for a long time and I have offered her roles several times, but she has always said no, on the contrary this time. I have no complaints about him, because when there is no desire on the part of an actor, mine evaporates. Here she liked the film as a whole.

She did not tell me about the score for the character Sidonie, which by the way is secondary and which was even less developed when I sent her the script. She enjoyed what this story tells. This must have resonated with her through her experience and the relationships she had with certain instructors.

Was it obvious to blackmail her?

I love this song, Jeder tötet var er liebt which Jeanne Moreau played in Quarrel by Fassbinder. She says everyone kills the object of their love. Again, it was a personal pleasure, but at the same time it gave me the opportunity to talk about this relationship you have with a celebrity when you are a fan of him. A mixture of admiration, love … And hatred, as far as one can end up burning his idols.

– By Francois Ozon (France). With Denis Ménochet, Isabelle Adjani, Khalil Ben Gharbia. Drama. 1h25.

Leave a Comment