Philippe Claudel is the writer and director of the BAFTA winning I Loved you So Long. He spared me some time in his busy promotion schedule for Before the Winter Chill (out May 9th) to answer a few questions.
Philippe, this film reunites you with Kristin Scott Thomas whom you last worked with on I Loved You So Long, did you write the role of Lucie with her in mind?
No. We wanted to work again together one day, but I wrote this screenplay with Daniel (Auteuil) in mind. Later, after it was written I told myself that it would be a good idea to offer the part of Lucy to Kristin. I like to film Kristin. It’s not always simple to work with her and we have a strange relationship. I respect her deeply, her talent and grace.
People say you write what you know; in what way did you identify with Paul’s “mid-life crisis”?
Paul is not me. But I’m more or less full of the same doubt: is my life the life I dreamt of when I was twenty? Life passes so fast. Like Paul I don’t have the time to take a break and think about that.
Who do you think the audience is for this film? Paul and Lucie have very middle class problems; can they still be sympathetic characters?
I don’t know. There is a social aspect in the movie; we observe the life of the middle class as very far removed from the real problems of the world. In this way, the character of Lou is like a bomb in their life. I believe too that Lucie can be a portrait of a lot of women; she sacrificed her own life and desires for the career of her husband.
As a writer do you feel that you instinctively become a repository for other people’s memories? Do you feel a certain responsibility about this?
I like to inspect the human being, with novels or movies. A “responsibility” is too big a weight for me. I try just to do my best, to be at my place in this world, with the other people
Do you prefer writing or directing? What are the unique problems you find with each of these roles?
I write alone and I direct with a crew. It’s 2 different pleasures. The pleasure of writing is unlimited. It’s not the case when you make a movie: there are a lot of walls, money, time, etc. But it’s so exciting to shoot, to work with actors and technicians. It’s very powerful drug.
I prepare my next movie, “Childhood” I’ll shoot it in June and July. I’ll finish a novel. I’m a lucky guy…