3‘ “i f
Catherine Breillat’s new film sets out to prove that Sex IS Comedy. Words: Torn Dawson
A ('atherine Breillat comedy might seetn an unlikely proposition. Breillat. if you were shamefully unaware. is a writer-director who has specialised in intense and disconcerting explorations of fetnale sexuality and desire in Romance and A mu su'iii'.’ Based on Breillat's experiences of shooting A mu sow/2’. Set“ is ('oim't/y proves to be a sharply amusing self—portrait while examining the nature of ‘truth‘ and ‘reality" in screen acting during scenes of physical intimacy.
The bttlk of Star is ('ometly involves director Jeanne (Anne Parillaud). who has to manage her crew. while coaxing convincing performances from two actors (Roxane Mesquida and (it'egoire Colin). who are acting in a bedroom scene in which the teenage girl loses her virginity to an older man. The film set itself becomes a focus for the power struggles inherent in relationships. with the female filmmaker believing that ‘the director is a predator. You have to drag the emotion out of the actors.’
Roxane .\1esquida. so impressive as the alluring. yet naive. IS-y'ear-old lilena in A mu MPH/1'. had no qualms about working again with Breillat. ‘I thought the screenplay was funny.’ she reveals. 'And there was no way in my life that I would let anyone else play my part. The shooting was tnuch more simple than on A mu su’ur.’.‘ she adds. ‘('atherine knew me tnuch better. and it was happiness from beginning to end. It wasn't complicated at all. liven being in the freezing water at the beginning was fttn. When you really want to work with somebody it's absolute happiness.‘ Indeed the main difficulty for Mesquist
seems to have been containing her feelings of
boredom. since for long stretches of Sex is (bum/y. her character remains out-of-shot. 'Yes. that was very trustrating'. she admits. ‘Yet it meant that when we
38 THE LIST "~57 on 379.5
‘Personally, I’d to take my clot es
off than have to get in Of a camera be somebody who is without make-up’
regoire Colin and Roxane Mesquida in Sex is Comedy
reached the last scene. where l have to scream violently. l was so full of energy that I could really glVL‘ the Whole of myself to tltc \L'L‘llC..
Whereas Mesquida was able to draw on the memories and experiences of her ow it prior performance. Anne Parillaud had the trickier task of constructing a character without imitating her real life director Breillat. ‘('athcrine kept repeating to me: "She‘s not ntef" says l’arillaud. ‘So I would avoid copying her mannerisms and gestures. She was representing a category of artists who are ready to kill to get what they want. I knew it was her in some sense. When I read the script. I knew it could only come front somebody who was saying something litat was close to what she felt.‘
Parillaud had given birth just a week before filming started. Breillat instructed her to wear her own clothes on set and. crucially. not to wear any
make-up. 'l’ersonally. I’d refer prefer to take my clothes off than have to get itt front of a camera withottt make- up.‘ she says. ‘But I had to
defined by what she creates. not what she looks like. I
looked at some pictures of
('atherine on a film-set. and she is so involved that she doesn't look like a human being. She was just a shape. a spirit.'
As with the extended seduction sequence in A mu .\(l'lll'.'. it was apparently the male actor who give Breillat the most difficulties in Sex is ('oim'i/y. with (it‘egoire ('olin's anxieties about keeping on his socks and wearing a fake penis during the sex scene incorporated into the finished film. Parillaud politely talks of (‘olin's penchant for getting himself into the same difficulties attd panic as his fictional character: ‘If you're an actor and you want
to succeed in a Breillat film you have to take her
hand on this deep. strong adventure.‘ says l’arillaud. ‘()therwise it will be torture. You have to work with her. not against her.‘ (Tom Dawsom
Filmhouse Edinburgh from Fri 25 Jul, see review.
Lights. camera. act/0n
MOVING CONVERSATIONS takes on technology in Spammers & Spools: 24th July at the Warner Village Cinema in Greenside Place. Edinburgh at 6.30pm. followed by a showing of Russian Ark £6.50 (£5.50 conc). Tel 0131 557 3964 for tickets or use the automated booking number 0870 2406020.
\ Mediabase’s Film Making Exhibition
ON SUNDAY 20TH JULY IT'S the Film Making Exhibition, The 6er Centre. Free. Hosted by Edinburgh Mediabase, this event will give members of the public an opportunity to try first hand some of the tools of modern-day filmmaking. This will provide an invaluable insight into the digital filmmaking process.