By adapting his own play for the cinema, the Spaniard Cesc Gay transposes to the cinema his questions about the couple and the desire. For the occasion, he meets one of his favorite actors, Javier Cámara.
AlloCiné: How did you translate your own play into film for Sentimental ?
Cesc Gay: When I wrote the text, I didn’t know if I was going to do a play or a film first. In writing it, I was inspired by American comedies from the 40s and 50s, those wacky comedies that I love, in which dialogue and rhythm are everything. As luck would have it, I directed the play first, but adapting it to the big screen was an easy process. My only obsession as a director was to make a movie where the actors were constantly moving around the apartment. Escape from the sofa. I even put a few scenes in the elevator.
As in your play, the characters stay in the apartment. You’re not cheating on the original material: it’s a play, and it looks like you wanted audiences to know about it.
This was precisely the essence of the adaptation, not to betray the original material. The game is developed in real time, without ellipses or pauses. It was the biggest challenge for me and the 4 actors. Dialogue was all we had. Nowadays there are so many movies and series that woo audiences and hook them with the sheer power of visuals. What we did was just the opposite. We only had the words.
Behind the main story, you tell us about married life. What can you tell us about it?
Living as a couple is without a doubt one of the greatest adventures and one of the greatest challenges we face as people. A challenge filled with adversity and a thousand battles to overcome. We are far from the happiness of the wedding night. Persevering and not giving up are the only things couples can do to try and grow together and make the relationship last. I guess I have a bit of a romantic outlook on family and couples, and that’s really the essence of Sentimental.
Tell us about the shooting during the pandemic.
I was lucky to have finished filming 2 weeks before confinement. In that sense, I was extremely lucky.
After making us cry Truman, you make us laugh this time. Like François Truffaut, are you consciously making the new film “against” the previous one?
In fact, one of the quotes I will never forget as a director is from Truffaut. It says something like: “When there is hardly any difference between the film you imagined and the one that is projected on the cinema screen, that is the mark of a good director.” This is what I have always tried to do. I never planned too much or thought too much about why I make the films I make. They happen, sometimes by chance, sometimes by instinct.
You are once again working with Javier Cámara. What makes this actor so unique?
Javier goes through comedy and emotion with the same naturalness and the same intelligence. He is able to give you several different tones and colors in the same sentence and that is a real privilege for any director. In addition, she is one of the best people I know on the planet and it makes me very happy to know that we will see each other on set, in front of a camera.