Binoche and Auteil give their director unsurprisingly accomplished performances

Wages of fear

He's one of modern French cinema's most prolific and highly-praised filmmakers, but PATRICE LECONTE refuses to be pigeon-holed as an auteur. Words: Tom Dawson

A Scorpio by star sign. Patrice Leconte is a chameleon filmmaker. prolifically switching between styles and genres like an old-style studio director. Among his seventeen features are psychological thrillers (Monsieur Ilire). road movies (Tango). costume dramas (Ridicule). and tales of erotic obsession ('I‘lie Hairdresser's Husband). (‘ritics have vainly attempted to . trace the recurrent themes and personal preoccupations in Leconte’s oeuvre in a bid to bestow auteur status upon their creator. The director. however. neatly side—steps such pigeon—holing: ‘I am too close to the films to see the threads between them.’ he insists. 'I hope simply that what may link them is my unbelievable love for the cinema. For me the greatest motivation when I approach a new film is that it is so different from the last one that it scares me. That fear is what drives me on.

Set on a remote I91h century Ii‘rench island off

Newfoundland. La Veuve l)e .S'uini-I’ierre (The Widow ()f.S'aini-l’ierre) involves a tragic love triangle. comprising a military captain (Daniel Auteil). his headstrong wife (Juliette Binoche). and a convicted prisoner (Iimir Kusturica). whom Binoche attempts to rehabilitate. ‘Another. director Alain (‘orneau. was supposed to direct the film.‘ Leconte cheerfully explains. ‘I was very envious of him because I knew it was a beautiful story. I knew he had Binoche and Auteil on board. and I knew the producers from

10THE UST 10 ll/xug 2000

'The greatest motivation for a new film is that it is so different from the last one. That fear is what drives me OIL, Patrice Leconte

Ridicule. For rather vague reasons Corneau abandoned the project. and they asked me to take over. There are always many reasons that make you accept a film. [,a Veuve l)e .S'aiiit-Pierre embraces several themes. but for me the main attraction was to try and express its strong. emotional love story.‘

Wary of making an aesthetically beautiful but empty film. Leconte has incorporated some of the freedom and lightness evident in his previous film.

The (Iirl ()II The Bridge. ‘For me one of the traps of

.S'ainr-l’ierre was making it too heavy.‘ he says. ‘(‘ertain period films bore me because of their heaviness. They are a corseted version of life. I got a lot of pleasure from shooting certain sequences hand- held. as if it was a documentary. My idea was to give freedom to the camera. so that wasn‘t working in the style of the period.‘

Binoche and Auteil give their director unsurprisineg accomplished performances. so perhaps the real surprise lies in the contribution of the Serbian director Kusturica ( Underground. Black Cat. White (at). here making his screen debut as an actor. ‘I saw a photo of him directing.‘ recalls Leconte. ‘and I knew immediately that he was the character of Neel. But we were shooting for four months. and I was worried that he would lose his enthusiasm. btit he was always ready on set. and passionate and happy to be there. He never tried to get involved in the direction. He just wanted to be as good as Juliette and Daniell'

Unsurprisingly. the ever-industrious Leconte has finished another film since 111 Veuve l)e .S‘aiiiI-I’ierre. ‘That one was heavy and intense. so I wanted to do something light and small. It‘s set in a fairground. it's a love story and it's Iow-budget.’ he says. And the title? ‘I couldn‘t find anything better.’ he laughs. ‘so I've called it after the names of the protagonists. Felix And Lulu.‘ Very practical. (Tom Dawson)

La Veuve De Saint-Pierre opens Fri 11 Aug at Glasgow Film Theatre. See review.

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Rough cuts

Lights, camera, action . . . WHILE EDINBURGH GETS all chin-

; strokey with its Film Festival : showcase of world cinema, Rough cuts takes a trip to Hollywood. Let's

kick off with some gossip: Robert Downey Jr has been freed from prison. A probation violation

i involving drink, driving and drugs

lead to the Oscar-nominated actor being incarcerated, but a judge has

commuted his sentence because

Downey has already 'served’ 323

days in rehab. Still, that didn’t stop the actor from finding time to make

Curtis Hanson's follow-up to LA. Confidential, Wonder Boys.

COOL CASTING NEWS: Tobey Maguire is to play Peter Parker, nerdy photo journalist by day, web swinging

superhero Spider-man by night. The

long-awaited Marvel Comic adaptation being directed by Sam Raimi pits Spidey against two arch foes: Dr Octopus and The Green Goblin, the latter to be played by Nicolas Cage. Meanwhile, Helena Bonham Carter is to endure make-up hell as a simian princess in Tim Burton’s remake of Planet Of The Apes.

HAVING JUST FINISHED work on Martin Scorsese's 19th century gangster drama The Kings Of New York, Leonardo DiCaprio will play a criminal of a different kind in Catch Me If You Can, based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr. Never heard of Frank? Well, he’s the youngest ever offender to make the FBI's ten most wanted list, and between 1964 and 1966 cashed $6 million worth of phoney cheques while impersonating a doctor, history professor, assistant attorney general and an airline pilot.

MEL GIBSON AND Goldie Hawn used to square off against each other, competing to show their arses (or asses as they say in Hollywood) on set and on screen. However, it appears no less a luminary than Marlon Brando has been letting it all hang out (all of it) on the set of his latest film, The Score. For the more exotable readers there have also been numerous moon sightings of laddie George Clooney’s ass, from on- set during The Perfect Storm to holidaying in the Mediterranean. The butt stops here.

Tobey Maguire: nerd or superhero?