Workin , Class hero
Guédiguian painting grim social realities with La Ville est Tranquille
ROBERT GUEDIGUIAN is to France what Ken Loach is to Britain, and with La Ville est Tranquille he’s just made his best film yet.
Words: Tom Dawson
rench writer-director Robert (itiediguian divides
his filmmaking output into two broad categories:
his ‘tales‘ such as the recently released A l.'utraque.’. in which he playfully seeks to twist grim social reality in a more optimistic direction. and his more pessimistic ‘films'. in which he depicts the world as he sees it. His sprawling portrait of contemporary urban existence. La Ville est 'Ii'unqui/le. belongs firmly in the latter camp. lt‘s possibly his best film yet.
As always with (iuediguian. the setting is his home- town of Marseilles. where his Armenian lather worked in the docks. Asked why he keeps cinematically returning to this city. the fortysomething (iuediguian answers via his interpreter: ‘It‘s for very personal and subjective reasons. The place where you first open your eyes has its own sensuality. It‘s my language there and the Mediterranean light is very special. I‘d find it very difficult to film in Paris. liver since I left Marseilles I‘ve had a desire to go back. I make a film every year. which means that I'm back in Marseilles for three months. I cart tell all the stories I want to there. If I was to shoot somewhere else. it wouldn't be in France. It would be far away."
La Ville est Tranquille weaves together a number of
compelling storylines. which cut across class. race and age. and in which the majority of the characters are battling simply to survive. ‘What I wanted to show.’ explains Guediguian. ‘was characters who were at a loss. who no longer had any anchorage or thoughts on
the world. As a result they react instinctively. whether
they‘re bourgeois or working class. That’s what connects them. although some are linked in a more positive way. for example by music.'
Given the film's scope. with its various narrative
‘Cinema is like an orchestra, where if everybody just plays their own piece, it becomes a mess’ ,1!
strands and multiple locations. I ask whether
(iuediguian himself perceived Lu l’ie est 'l'runquil/e as
more of a professional challenge than his earlier
works. 'l’m not thinking about whether something is more or less ambitious. he replies. ‘()n each film there are so many surprises. You can be shooting something amazingly quickly and successfully. or you can work really hard on something for five years. and it’s not brilliant at all. There’s something mysterious about lilmmaking which you can‘t predict.‘
Throughout his career (iuediguian has chosen to work with a troupe of regular actors. His wife. Ariane Ascaride. plays the despairing mother of a teenage heroin addict in [.u \ie est 'l'runqur'lle. and there are also key roles for Jean-Pierre [)arroussin and Gerard .Vleylan. These are familiar faces from (iuediguian’s breakthrough films in the l'K. .llurius er Jeane/re and 3A la place du coeur. ‘lt’s something irrational.’ he says. ‘but I prefer working with close friends who I've known for years and years. I see what they do with other directors and it‘s never as good as what they do with me. (ierard is a childhood friend. We grew tip together in the satne school. I don't see him and Jean- Pierre and Ariane as actors. but as special collaborators. (‘inema is always a collective collaboration. It‘s like an orchestra. where if everybody just plays their own piece. it becomes a mess.‘
(iuediguian acknowledges that it was the success of .llurrus el
Jeanette. made in 19%. which enabled his work to be
distributed outside of his native country. ‘That film was like an engine for me.‘ he says. ‘lt drove things along. I was lucky to make a film that was a big public success in France. There are a lot of talented people to whom that hasn‘t happened.’ Guediguian. the champion of unsung heroes. has already finished his tenth feature. Marie-Jr) et ses (/(’ll.t' unmurs. which he describes as ‘an impossible. beautiful love story between a woman and two men‘.
La Ville est Tranquille opens at Filmhouse, Edinburgh on Fri 19 Oct. See review, page 29.
noucii curs ‘
Lights, camera, action . . . THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE and to be found at Glasgow's Grlmorehrll C312 Cinema in Reel Truths. a season of illlTlS exploring the power of the media. The season gets uno‘emay Friday 19 October v-rrth Sidney Lumet's scathing 1976 attack on broadcast lOLlfllE‘tllSlll, Network. One Day In September. Ring. Leap Of Faith and Natural Born Killers follow each Friday thereafter. Screenings wrll be followed by discussfons wrth a panel of guests comprrsmg academics. the media and representatives of the churches of Glasgow's West End vii/ho are also the sponsors of the season.
THE HORROR IS ALSO OUT there, at the Glasgow Film Theatre which celebrates Halloween with Celluloid Cauldron, an illustrated talk on the subject of witches and warlocks by the British Film lnstitute’s Darren Elliott. The talk includes some rarely seen film footage such as the 1922 Swedish docu- drama, Ha'xan (see picture). There’s also a schools screening the same day, in the morning.
Haxan (aka Witchcraft Through The Ages)
HORROR IN EDINBURGH TOO. at the Filmhouse \‘lltIClt screens The Cal met Of Dr Cal/gall. the classic G()l’lt‘:éill express:owst nightmare damg from 1919. Tne silent film wrll play to a live musical accompaniment by In The Nursery. the Sheffield based musroans who released an new score for the fun in 1996 v-Jhrch they wrll perform on Halloween night.
ALTHOUGH THE CANADIAN connexions event at the Filmhouse has been cancelled, your local regional film theatre has kindly substituted some Canadian- themed repertory films: The Hurricane, Possible Worlds and Ginger Snaps plus a preview screening of Denis Villeneuve’s Maelstrom on Monday 29 October.
18 ()1??-' Not. 20;". THE LIST 27