VA SAVOIR? aka WHO KNOWS?
Movie Feature by Alice Castle
PHASE9 interviews Jeanne Balibar - star of VA SAVOIR
COMMENT JE ME SUIS DISPUTÉ (MA VIE SEXUELLE)
J'AI HORREUR DE L'AMOUR
MANGE TA SOUPE
DIEU SEUL ME VOIT
TROIS POINTS SUR LA RIVIERE
FIN AOÛT DEBUT SEPTEMBER
ÇA IRA MIEUX DEMAIN
COMEDIE DE L'INNOCENCE
LE STADE DE WIMBLEDON
AVEC TOUT MON AMOUR
Can you tell me about VA SAVOIR?
This is the story of an actress, Camille who has left Paris three years ago because she wanted to fly away from a love affair that was turning in a terrible way. She's moved to Italy where she's met this guy who is the director of a theatre group and who's directing a play by Pirandello - 'Come Tu Mi Vuoi' aka 'As You Desire Me'. The theatre company has come back to Paris to perform this play over the summer and coming back to Paris makes Camille very confused and upset. It's made her think about who she is and whether this ancient love affair was saying something about her own truths or whether what she's doing now is telling her who she actually is.
She obviously loved this man from her past - but what happened between them?
When a love affair doesn't really work out, it always means that something terrible is happening to you or has happened to you. You don't really have to know precisely what it is that didn't work out but the actual fact that you are in love with someone and it doesn't make you happy in a way is a tragedy in itself - and I guess that is what is puzzling her so much, the fact that she's having to re-think all those thoughts.
I particularly liked the scene when you went to find your former lover and you end up going to the park where he always went to read the paper at the same time every day. It's as if nothing has passed between you at all. How did you prepare for this scene?
With Jacques Rivette you don't really prepare, there's no scenario or script beginning the shooting. We get the lines the night before or even sometimes in the morning when we arrive ready for shooting. I remember that I had to go into the park and there was this little branch of a tree that was in my way and I had to move it out of the way and it gave me a really strange feeling. It was pure coincidence, pure chance that there was this tree in the way - but it was like giving me the whole atmosphere of the scene. That's very much the way Rivette works - he allows the elements of chance and weirdness that are provided by the actual place where we are shooting to come into consideration. Also, he had very specific demands. I had to do this little monologue before I met the main actor and that is quite a weird thing, and though you might do this in theatre, you're not used to this in cinema. It built up a strange atmosphere with the main actor and I. And then we just let ourselves be held by the atmosphere.
If you didn't have a script, did you speak to the actors before each scene to plan what you were going to do?
I don't think we talked that much - we listened a lot to what Rivette was saying or what he was doing with the camera. I don't think talking is that important. It's an Anglo-Saxon tradition to talk about things all the time. Cassavetes thought this was a waste of time. It puts the libido where it shouldn't be - not in the acting.
Was VA SAVOIR based on Jean Renoir's CARROSSE D'OR aka THE GOLDEN COACH?
I heard Rivette talking about it - but there was no question of re-making a masterpiece. It has the similar theme of a female character at a turning point in her life and being caught between three men who each represent different possibilities for life and relationships. And that's also what happens to Camille in VA SAVOIR.
Did it make you think about former relationships?
With love, what is very puzzling is that sometimes you stop loving but that is fairly rare. What happens more often is not that you stop loving someone, but just that it's just not possible any more and it doesn't work out. You've actually never stopped loving this person. It raises a lot of questions about who you are, how you love and what you want.
How were you selected for the role?
In fact this part was written for Emmanuelle Beart who had asked Rivette to write a part for her and she very much wanted to work with him again. But then it didn't work out and she was doing something else when he needed to shoot. He wanted a very famous star but none were available so he ended up with me - and I'm very happy about it!
JEANNE BALIBAR can also be seen in to be released in the UK in 1 March 2002.