The actor and director returns with Adieu les cons, a black comedy in which emotion has its place. This artist has lost nothing of his singularity and his verve.
After Goodbye Up there, did you want a more intimate shoot?
Albert Dupontel – To tell the truth, I had already made good progress on the Goodbye idiots scenario before filming Goodbye up there. But the proposal and the enthusiasm of my producer, Catherine Bozorgan, to adapt the novel by Pierre Lemaitre were so appealing that it was difficult to refuse. Moreover, Adieu les cons is part of a continuity: it is also a comico-social tragedy with the nuances which are of course brought by the time, the actors, the evolution of society. There is also in these two films the same theme that obsesses me: the relationship between parents and children. A real neurosis.
Albert Dupontel – I do not know. I have even fewer excuses since I was educated and loved by my parents. When my dad saw Bernie he asked me, ” But what did I do to you? Yet God knows I adored him. But I believe that our adult deviances were born in childhood. Despite all the love we can have, the education we receive is often a bit outdated: it comes from parents who themselves were brought up in an era with different codes. Some explain it better than I do, like Boris Cyrulnik who, in La nuit, j’écrirai des soleils, tells the story of the educational journey of great French writers.
Farewell idiots starting from the desire to approach this filial relationship?
Albert Dupontel – No. The story was born from this idea: a woman who would like to live and cannot meet a man who could live and does not want. I wondered what these characters would have to say to each other. 9 Firm Month was also born out of antagonism. I had been quite struck by the 10th Chamber, Moments of Hearing, the documentary by Raymond Depardon, and I had wondered what, absurdly, could unite a defendant and a judge. For Adieu les cons, I wanted these people who express the difficulty of loving each other in this repressive and anxiety-provoking world to meet. Today, society crushes and forgets us all. JB, my character, educated in the sense of professional narcissus, is in full burnout after missing a promotion. Suze, the heroine who is looking for the child she had abandoned, asks only to live, but is killed at work while breathing junk. Finally, Mr. Blin, an improbable character played brilliantly by Nicolas Marié, embodies very plausible administrative absurdities.
How did the choice of Virginie Efira come about?
Albert Dupontel – No actor is obvious. I’m looking for a music, a note. Virginie, like other actresses whom I hope to find again, lent herself with a lot of humility to the game of essays. This is the best way for me to meet. This allows them to tell me eventually that they do not understand anything that I want to tell and that they go their way. And I see how we can work together. Suze came out of Virginia naturally, as obvious. As the character of 9 Months Farm had come out of Sandrine Kiberlain. I remember, I was lost, and the cameraman pointed out to me: ” This girl, even when she gets angry, she remains sympathetic. It was her.
In your films, you give pride of place to female characters …
Albert Dupontel – Men and women cannot walk without each other. If I want to clearly state a thesis, I need all the adjectives. As in a written composition, if I do without the feminine, it will be ridiculous. The world has operated, alas, for a very long time on the notion of domination. Our cultures advocate only strength and, in this macho schema, women are supposedly weaker. It is reductive, scholarly, infantile, dangerous.
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Was playing one of the protagonists of the film obvious?
Albert Dupontel – Let’s say that this depressive fifty-something, I know him well, in an intimate way. In Goodbye Up There, I had to contort myself to fit into a costume that hadn’t been tailored for me originally. But there, JB was waiting for me, like a pair of comfortable old sneakers. For the next film I’m writing, however, I should only take refuge behind the camera.
“I realized that I preferred to tell this world with my imagination”
This role is without doubt the sweetest you have given yourself …
Albert Dupontel – I don’t think I have to camouflage myself anymore. It’s more shameless to play this identifiable character than to play Bernie and his slightly crazy cousins who can be looked at with disgust, dread or amusement. I put reality at a distance with them.
In Goodbye idiots, your heroes are disabled, depressed, condemned… In your opinion, does suffering act as a revealer?
Albert Dupontel – Suffering pushes to the essential. Some will only be taller, others more petty. Besides, it is everywhere, even when, on the surface, we have cozy and formatted lives.
Did this awareness come from your medical studies?
Albert Dupontel – In part. In five years of medicine, I have indeed discovered that this insidious rumor about the fact that we are mortal was confirmed. I realized early on that our life was for next to nothing. So, courageously, I fled the real by going to the cinema. What I found absurd in my daily life, I understood in dark rooms. In the cinema, everything made sense and I took refuge there. This is how it all started. I realized that I preferred to tell this world that I did not understand with my imagination. During the tour to present Adieu les cons, a lady asked me where my crazy and delirious universe came from. I sincerely believe that I am not inventing much. I’m just commenting, subjectively and trying to be distracting, on the deviant times I live in. You just have to look. There is no will to protest at home. I’m more of a peaceful person, I stay quiet in my corner.
Nothing makes you angry?
Albert Dupontel – Yes, of course. I’ve been hearing about global warming, viruses and social degradation for thirty years, but the rulers are in denial. The human is a genius who will get away with it, but I’m skeptical that he can do it without suffering. Personally, I have already had a great life and if tomorrow everything stops, I can only say thank you. But I am sorry for this almost suicidal march forward. I am afraid for the planet and for my kids. I feel helpless. The only thing I can do is show them the beauty of things. Like my father did with me when I was a kid, when I was introduced to Chaplin’s cinema, for example. My eldest son, who graduated from high school and of whom I am very proud, was fed on films very early on, and I have just shown the Grande Vadrouille to my little one. I try to make them discover pretty things without boring them.
Like your characters, do you have a complicated relationship with the discipline?
Albert Dupontel – My mother always told me that when I was 4 I was kicked out of school. Maybe I was having difficulty with authority? But since I’ve been playing the puppet, I’ve been completely free. The only accounts I have to render is to the public. I try to entertain him and not disappoint him.
Do you have projects as an actor with others?
Albert Dupontel – I’m running out of time. I am getting older, my projects are time consuming and I have a fairly intense family life. If I don’t take advantage of the time to contemplate the world and those around me, I will have missed everything.
Goodbye idiots, by Albert Dupontel. Released on October 21.
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