LOOK AT ME aka COMME UNE IMAGE - Q&A with AgnÈs Jaqui and Jean-Pierre Bacri
Movie Interview by Neils Hesse
AgnÈs the characters in this film are all very believable, was this your aim?
AGNÈS JAOUI: Yes, we aimed to make them as believable as possible. But in order to achieve this we had to have two or three models and as wanted to speak about it from the point of view of power we realized that when people deal with power they lose their charm.
Jean-Pierre and Agnès, which do you prefer more the acting or the writing?
JEAN-PIERRE BACRI: Writing gives me full pleasure whereas acting is more pleasure of a vain nature, in that I get to flesh out the very character that I have developed through the writing.
AGNÈS JAOUI: Well I started off as an actor so I will always be an actor who writes.
You are both actors and writers in the film business so why did you choose the world of publishing for this story?
AGNÈS JAOUI: It was not our aim to criticise a particular media and if we had chosen the movie business it would have been taken badly by people in the business. In fact originally we wanted our story to be set in the world of architecture but the research would have been too much so publishing turned out to be easier to do. We don't invent characters we base them on some models, and as such we do not have the right to criticise certain media in the same way that a non-Jewish person could not tell an anti-Semite joke.
Where you both always going to play those parts that you play in the film?
AGNÈS JAOUI: We wrote all the characters together for this movie and so we felt that we could flesh out the characters ourselves.
Agnes, did you feel that Jean-Pierre was perhaps too nice to play the role of Etienne?
AGNÈS JAOUI: I was afraid that he would be too nice but in the filming process it didn't happen.
Jean-Pierre was it nice for you to play such an unsympathetic character considering that you normally play much nicer people?
JEAN-PIERRE BACRI: When I play a likeable character I am happy because it is like me, it is hard to play a bad person when you are naturally inclined to be good.
Agnes, do you think that the film would have been as effective as it is if you had not used a fat girl for the main character?
AGNÈS JAOUI: We concluded that it would only work with a fat girl. It was originally a play 10 years ago, so it was obvious to us.
Why did the character of Sebastian have to be such an honest chap was it because he was a foreigner to France?
AGNÈS JAOUI: No, we have met people like that. He was just meant to be honest, sort of like a Buster Keaton character, no hidden intentions.
Is it unique to French sensibilities or is it universal the manner in which people react to writers in this film?
AGNÈS JAOUI: Well that is hard to say, but for instance in the States it is almost impossible for a writer to recognised in the streets whereas in France it is a totally different story.
Jean-Pierre and Agnès, what would you both say is the main difference between Hollywood and French cinema?
French movies make less money!
Have you two ever been asked to remake one of your films for Hollywood?
AGNÈS JAOUI: We have been asked several times but we always refuse.
JEAN-PIERRE BACRI: If you want to see the movie you ought to see it in it's true form which would be in French.
What is your favourite British movie and why does France have such a successful movie industry?
AGNÈS JAOUI: I cannot pick one movie but I like Ken Loach. French films have survived for many reasons, laws like the one that was made after the war that stipulates that a percentage of every foreign film's profits goes to the French government thereby funding French films. Again other laws that encouraged traditional movies and thus nurtured new talent and of course the public like the product.
In the film the women learn from their mistakes whereas the men just carry on, is this true in real life?
AGNÈS JAOUI: I am very distrustful of women in real life, but of course in positions of power both men and women can be corrupted perhaps with women even more so. Men are difficult to change but again it is a question of context.
Would you say this film is a comedy or a drama or a bit of both?
JEAN-PIERRE BACRI: As in life one day you can laugh and cry, a succession of laughter and tears, so I would say this movie is about life.
One of the hardest scenes is the one when the father is left alone with his youngest daughter and he comes across as extremely cold and bored to be alone with her. Where did that idea come from and do you have kids yourself?
JEAN-PIERRE BACRI: No, no kids but we have eyes so we see a lot of things.
The music is a big part of the film, how difficult was it to choose the music that made it into the film?
AGNÈS JAOUI: Music is very important to me, as I sing as well as act, write and direct but at the same time I had to ensure that it was music that could be appreciated by a wide variety of people. Also the scenes in which music is placed is important. American movies love to have music in scenes where say a man is kissing a woman and I sometimes feel that this can be very inappropriate.
JEAN-PIERRE BACRI: The Tupac you hear playing in the background was my choice.
AGNÈS JAOUI: The music permits the characters to find something that they couldn't find in real life. When I went to music school it was a relief to be able to just work and not pay attention to my looks or the looks of other girls so I wanted to highlight that aspect of the power of song.