Known to the general public for playing the role of Emma in Scènes de Ménages on M6 since 2011, Anne-Elisabeth Blateau presents to us today Mère Indigne. A series in 10 episodes of 26 minutes that she wrote and directed.
A woman of many hats, Anne-Elisabeth Blateau also plays the main role. Indeed, the actress lends her features to Rachel, a 40-year-old woman who celebrates her divorce for a long time, joyfully but above all loudly.
But when she discovers that her ex-husband Yanis is dating his lawyer, Rachel sets out to get him back by trying to pass herself off as a “super mum“Obviously, the pressure is too strong and Rachel accumulates disasters which not only distance her from the perfect woman but, on the contrary, bring her closer to the one.”unworthy mother“.
Met at the La Rochelle Fiction Festival last September, Anne-Elisabeth Blateau spoke to Allociné about this crazy series and the challenges she encountered.
Allociné: How was the idea of Mère Indigne born?
Anne-Elisabeth Blateau : I am the mother of a seven-year-old boy. I found it extremely difficult to be a mother today because you put a kind of pressure on yourself. That is to say, you have to be a good mother, a good wife, a good mistress, a good colleague, a good friend. It is impossible and untenable. At one point it was too much for me. I had a feeling of failure. I told myself I had to talk about this.
That was really the starting point of the series. I had to write the story of an overwhelmed mother who can’t be the perfect mother that society expects but who tries to do well. There’s a phrase that I really like in the series, it’s “I’m not just a mother, I’m me and then I’m a mother and I deal with it.” So it became the story of Rachel struggling in her life as a mom, as a wife to an ex-wife, as a lover and trying to do the right thing.
This is your first production, what made you want to get behind the camera?
I wanted to write and star in the series because the subject matter was close to my heart. And then gradually, I told myself that it was impossible for a director to arrive, take the episodes and decide where we were going to shoot, how we were going to dress and who we were going to choose as actor. So I told Khaled Amara, the producer of the series, that I could not not be artistic director of this project. As technically my job is not a director, we thought about co-directing with Romain Fisson Edeline. The pair worked magnificently.
So you are director, screenwriter and actress in this series. How did you experience this challenge?
It’s a lot of work but it’s wonderful to bring what you write on paper to life. I could be scouting at the same time as I was preparing for my role while continuing to film Household Scenes. It was a very busy year but it was my best life.
Mère Indigne is a fairly uninhibited series about the role of mother. Was it important for you to break the codes a little?
I tried to create a character who is free. When we are free in general, we are always made to pay a little bit. Rachel’s entourage is therefore not going to give her any gifts. She tries to do better but you can’t change who you are. So, how do you survive while being a mom?
You are surrounded by great acting partners. How did you choose the actors for this series?
It’s true that I quickly thought of Mounir Margoum for the role of Yanis. I didn’t know him at all but I wanted it to be him. We met at fittings and it’s like we’ve known each other for 20 years. It’s been a great partner.
All the actors in the series really wanted to play in the series when they read the script. You should know that the fee was derisory compared to the careers of these actors. It was really the writing and the freshness of the project that convinced them. So we were really lucky.
How was the filming with Violette Bostyour fictional daughter?
We were extremely lucky. It was the casting director from Marseille who introduced me to Violette. It’s true that it was immediate between us. In addition to being cinematic, it is fantastic. The planets have truly aligned on this series.
We feel that you had a lot of fun in this series, both in the writing, in the production and in the acting… Did you enjoy being able to let go so much?
France Télévisions gave us absolutely incredible freedom of writing. Afterwards, what interests me is to create very English characters and to get to the end of situations. This character had to be explosive. She had to be 100% in the situations and go very far, otherwise there is less comedy and drama. We tried to do something funny and touching.
When you see the fantasy scenes from the series, you can easily imagine yourself as a big fan of romantic comedies…
Effectively ! The romantic comedies of the 1990s and 2000s had a big impact on me. We know very well that this is not real life. It’s a bandage and it feels good. The character of Rachel actually takes refuge in these romantic comedies. And when she feels emotionally in danger, she starts having these visions where she thinks that what is happening to her is true. But when she wakes up, nothing has happened as she imagined. It is a disaster.
What were your inspirations for these particular scenes?
The elevator scene with the fantasy neighbor is clearly a reference to Love at First Sight in Notting Hill. Then, there is obviously Pretty Woman and many others. It’s true that romantic comedy is good.
Can we hope for a season 2 of Mère Indigne?
We cross fingers. We hope that the series will be well received and that France Télévisions will give us the green light to write a second season. We already have some leads in any case.