François Ozon: “We are not used to seeing men cry on screen” – rts.ch

The story of a love as passionate as it is tortured, “Peter von Kant” by François Ozon revisits Fassbinder’s film fifty years later. Starring Denis Ménochet, Stefan Crepon, Khalil Gharbia and Isabelle Adjani, the film can currently be seen on French-speaking screens.

Cologne in the 1970s. Peter Von Kant, famously successful director, meets Amir and it is love at first sight. He offers her to share her apartment and help her get to the cinema …

Freely adapted from the play “Petra von Kant’s Bitter Tears” by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, brought to the screen by the same Fassbinder in 1972, “Peter von Kant” is François Ozon’s new film.

>> Watch: the trailer for the movie “Peter von Kant” by François Ozon

A masculine film

The story of a lesbian love in the original version, the French director (“Eight women”, “Potiche”, “Summer 85”, “Everything went well”) chose half a century later to masculinize the main role of the characters. Thus, Petra von Kant has become Peter (Denis Ménochet), Marlene, her assistant, displaced by Karl (Stefan Crepon) and Karin, a young woman of modest origin whom Petra falls in love with, becomes Amir (Khalil Gharbia). Only the character of Sidonie, the actress diva, interpreted on Ozone by Isabelle Adjani, was left.

The German context of the 1970s was also maintained, but the action was transferred from Bremen to Cologne. As for the original fashion environment, it was displaced by the cinema’s.

Isabelle Adjani, Denis Ménochet and Aminthe Audiard in “Peter von Kant” by François Ozon. [Carole Bethuel – FOZ]

Fassbinders shade

Asked by RTS about this adaptation, the French director states: “Fassbinder made a play and a film with six women. I had already made ‘Huit femmes’. And I said to myself that it was useless to repeat what Fassbinder had done in a magnificent way. So I would adapt it and give it another read. “

When he was making his film, François Ozon had the intuition that the German director through Petra was talking about him, a kind of “disguised self-portrait”. This intuition will be confirmed to her by Julian Lorenz, Fassbinder’s last companion, who died in 1982. She tells him that he wrote this piece in connection with his passionate love affair with one of his favorite actors, Günther Kaufmann. Choosing to make Peter a filmmaker is therefore no coincidence. The shadow of Fassbinder, who greatly nurtured François Ozon’s cinephilia, is very present.

The difficulty of loving

The French director has kept very close to the original text. “It’s very beautiful. A beautiful meditation on love, on passion. It’s a text that talks about learning, about the difficulty of loving. And Peter’s character learns that loving is not perhaps possessing.”

Unlike Fassbinder’s film, which is very black, very dark, Ozon offers something more optimistic. “In a love movie, it was also important to talk about the love of work. For my character [Peter]the fact that making movies is perhaps comforting “.

Denis Ménochet (right) and Khalil Gharbia in the film Denis Ménochet (right) and Khalil Gharbia in the film “Peter von Kant” by François Ozon. [Carole Bethuel – FOZ]

And to camp this Peter, a totally egocentric and dominant lover, Ozon went to look for Denis Ménochet, with whom he had already filmed in “Dans la maison” and “Grâce à Dieu”. In “Peter von Kant”, the French actor, whom we also admired in “Inglorious Bastards” by Quentin Tarantino, is in complexity and subtlety in suffering. “We are not used to seeing men cry on screen and he cries. I liked this contrast between this virile physique and this fragility,” the director concludes.

Interview by Raphaël Guillet and Anne Laure Gannac

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