Mesquida’s (right) teenager seeks to lose her virginity on a summer vacation
Sex and the single girl
Her explicit take on sexual desire has branded Catherine Breillat a notorious filmmaker. Nevertheless, ROXANE MESQUIDA, the young star of her new film A Ma Soeurl, describes her relationship with the director as ‘passion-filled’.
Words: Tom Dawson
he prospect of collaborating with the writer-
director Catherine Breillat on a film which
explores adolescent female desire might have deterred some actresses. After all Caroline Ducey. who took the lead role in Breillat‘s controversial. sexually explicit Romance. has since gone on record to express her misgivings about not being warned in advance that she would be sharing sex scenes with Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi. Nevertheless 20-year- old Roxane Mesquida seized the opportunity to work with Breillat on the follow up to Romance, the disconcerting coming-of-age drama A Ma Soeur.’ In the film the French actor plays a beautiful teenager seeking to lose her virginity on a summer family vacation.
‘The screenplay for A Ma Soeur.’ made a very strong impression on me.‘ says Mesquida. ‘I read it during a free period at school and I was very unsettled by the story. I walked around afterwards in a very odd state. What I found interesting was the special bond and the love-hate relationship between my character. Elena. and her younger sister Anais. and also the way the idea of love was depicted. I’d seen Romance and I was impressed by the pure way Catherine depicted the naked love scenes.‘
Mesquida is quick to defend her fictional character. ‘It‘s unfair and a pity that people don‘t want to identify themselves with Elena. because of what happens to her with the boy Fernando. At the
30 THE LIST 4—‘ 7 Jan 2302
‘l’d seen Romance, I just 13. was impressed by the pure way Catherine depicted the naked love scenes’
end of the film in my experience. people aren‘t cross with the boy but with her. I don‘t believe that she‘s just dumb and beautiful and superficial. And people have confused me with the character in real life. and have told me I shouldn't have behaved in that way with him.‘
Mesquida is referring to the film‘s centrepiece. an extended seduction scene in which the smooth- talking Fernando cajoles. flatters and finally pressurises Elena into having sex as a ‘demonstration of her love‘. Elena‘s painful humiliation is witnessed by her terrified sister from the corner of the room.
‘For me this was the best day of shooting.’ says Mesquida. ‘which surprises people. I had some apprehensions about being naked. but it went well. I actually had a very bad relationship off-screen with the actor playing Fernando. Libero de Rienzo. We didn't get on personally. So although it‘s not a nice thing to say. I pretended during this scene that he wasn‘t there. In fact. in retrospect I can‘t remember what he said.’
Breillat. meanwhile. is surprised at how well Mesquida got on with her other fellow actor. Anais Reboux. during filming. ‘The most surprising thing.‘ says the director. ‘is that Roxane and Anais really acted like sisters.‘
Mesquida grew up in a seaside village in the South of France near Marseilles. She was spotted in true- film star tradition by another director. .Vlanuel Pradal.
while she was walking
down the street. then aged Small parts followed in the films Marie Baie Des Angus and L'Ec'ole De La Chair. but it wasn‘t until A Ma Soeur.’ that she was given a role which. as she says ‘demonstrated my abilities‘. She’s already signed up alongside Nikita star Anne Parillaud for Breillat's next film. Brief Crossing. at film about filmmaking which was inspired by the shoot ofA Ma Soeurl
‘My relationship with Catherine is passion-filled.‘ says Mesquida. ‘During the first day on the set. I thought she was bossy. but there was also a special bond between us. If something went wrong it was horrible. yet if something was good. it was excellent. Nothing was average.‘
A Ma Soeurl plays at Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 4 Jan; GFT, Glasgow from Fri 18 Jan. See review.
/ights, camera, action . . .
SO. YOU KNOW ABOUT animation. You've heard of Disney. Pixar and Aardman . . . but have you heard of Studio Ghibli? Ghibli (the Arabic word for ‘hot Wind blowing thrOugh the desert' pronounced “lee-blee') is Japan's top animation outfit. Since the late 805. Ghibi has produced a series of features boasting complexity of animation. characterisation and theme. maintaining an emphasis on aesthetics over profit.
“Studio Ghibli — The Art of Japanese Animation comes to the Glasgow Film Theatre (5—29 January) and Filmh0use. Edinburgh (1 O January—23 February). Films include The Crimson Pig, Nausicaa Of The l/aI/ey Of The Wind. Kiki’s Delivery Service. Grave Of The Fireflies. My Neighbow Totoro. On/y Yesterday. Princess Mononoke (recently released in the UK wath new American actor- voiced part8) and My Neighbours The Yamadas. Additionally. the Filmhouse is screening Defender Of The Forest. Laputa: Castle In The Sky and Whisper Of The Heart.
IN THE RUN UP TO THE arrival of the Sheffield International Documentary Festival touring programme next month, the Filmhouse is screening the controversial film Injustice on 16 January. The film, made by Ken Fero and Tariq Mehmood (who will be around for a Q&A after the screening), concerns the 1,000 deaths in British police custody in the last 30 years and has been subjected to various attempts to ban it by some of the individual officers involved.
IT'S ELVIS PRESLEY'S BIRTHDAY On Tuesday 8 January. In celebration EOiﬂbJTg"'S Ffrnbouse .s sereening the documentary E/V/S.‘ That's The .” ay /.‘ ls. Everybody?Z be TOOK that night FINALLY, THE BLUE ROOM’S next monthly showcase of local community short films takes place at the Cameo Cinema on 7 January. Be