“L’Absente”, the new event mini-series of France 2, continues this evening with three new episodes. Meeting with Thibault de Montalembert, Clotilde Courau, Salomé Dewaels, director Karim Ouaret, and producer Sophie Révil.
Broadcast every Monday evening at 9:05 p.m. on France 2, L’Absente, which attracted 3.38 million viewers (15.7% of the public) last week in front of its first two episodes, is undoubtedly one of the series of events of back to school, with Mensonges or Une Affaire française.
Worn by Thibault de Montalembert, Clotilde Courau, Marie Denarnaud, Salomé Dewaels, Olivier Rabourdin, and Lionel Erdogan, this mini-series in eight episodes tells the story of Hélène and Laurent Masson, whose daughter, Marina, disappeared without leaving traces nine years ago.
When a young woman with amnesia, who looks exactly like her, is found near the place where Marina was last seen, it is a new upheaval for the Masson family, who never really knew where to find themselves. rebuild from the drama and immediately convinces herself that Marina is back.
But is this stranger really their daughter? And, if so, what happened the night she disappeared almost a decade ago? And where was she all this time?
The new series from the creator of La Forêt
At the origin of this project between intimate drama and breathless thriller, there is the desire of the producer Sophie Révil (The Little Murders of Agatha Christie, They were ten) to work with Delinda Jacobs, a screenwriter to whom the we owe the series Contact and La Forêt, respectively broadcast on TF1 and France 3 a few years ago.
“I absolutely fell in love with the writing of the mini-series La Forêt, I found that it stood out, that it was quite exceptional”, explains Sophie Révil. “So I invited Delinda Jacobs to lunch so that she could tell me about her projects. And she told me this story which was close to the news item about Natascha Kampusch. That is to say a kidnapped little girl who reappears just next to his parents’ house. But here, in our story, it’s more complicated “.
From this Austrian news item that everyone knows, Delinda Jacobs has therefore drawn a starting point from which she has woven a story that is ultimately very different, which is interested in the explosion caused by the disappearance of Marina on her relatives, in consequences of his absence, and the doubts and gray areas surrounding his “return” nine years later.
“Delinda is an amazingly talented screenwriter”, continues Sophie Révil, who is full of praise for the creator of L’Absente. “For me she’s a novelist. She writes alone, which no longer happens, it’s an old-fashioned thing. Today we write more as a team, in the form of a writer’s room. To write alone these 8 episodes, Delinda took about two and a half years. But the result is beautiful. The characters are chiseled, incredibly complex “.
And it is the strength of the writing of Delinda Jacobs that also convinced the director Karim Ouaret (Trapped) to embark on this new television adventure: “When Sophie Révil and Denis Carot contacted me to offer me this series, I read the first 4 episodes, and from the first lines I felt a special atmosphere that emanated from the pen of Delinda, with this young girl running on the road, in the middle of the night, chased by a truck “.
“I thought it was an unusual way to start a series like this”, continues the director of the series. “And then it just flowed through the sequences and the episodes. I love being surprised, having original twists, and that was the case in every episode. For me it was obvious to me. accept such a proposal “.
Clotilde Courau and Thibault de Montalembert as parents bruised by the absence of their daughter
While French channels increasingly tend to call on the same headliners from one series to another, L’Absente has the merit of offering a refreshing cast, made up of talents from all walks of life, from cinema to series, passing by the theater. And all the actors agree in any case on one thing: it was obvious to say “yes” to this story and to these characters, as complex and difficult to embody as they are.
“Reading the episodes, I realized that there was a crazy complexity in my character”, explains the young Belgian actress Salomé Dewaels, who plays the famous “absent” who reappears with amnesia and is shrouded in mystery. “There was so much to play. So, I’m not sure if it’s done, but as soon as I met Karim at the casting, I said to him ‘I want to do it, this has to be done. be me”.
Clotilde Courau, who plays Hélène Masson, also admits that she quickly felt that “the equation was perfect” between the work of Karim Ouaret and the writing of Delinda Jacobs. However, the actress, seen recently in Peur sur le lac and Le Viol, confides that she was not sure of being able to embody a character as complex as Hélène and that she needed to work closely with the screenwriter. of L’Absente to really understand Marina’s mother.
“I felt that there was something and that this project was interesting, but I had doubts about the complexity of the character of Helene”, admits Clotilde Courau. “I wondered if I was able to put all the nuances, this denial, this suffering in this character. The incarnation and the truth of Hélène were not simple. So I asked to do a session of working with Delinda, to have her explain some parts of Helene’s puzzle to me. Which helped me a lot. And I’m delighted to have accepted the role because it’s a chance to have such rich characters to defend “.
For his part, Thibault de Montalembert, whom the fans of Dix per cent know well, also prepared his role at length, in order to be able to transcribe at best on the screen the suffering of Laurent Masson, this father broken by the disappearance. of his daughter. “When a drama like that happens in a family, things emerge. Ghosts, unspoken things. The kidnapping of a child is necessarily revealing of a lot of things”.
And if L’Absente is freely inspired by the Natascha Kampusch affair, Thibault de Montalembert looked at another striking news item, the disappearance of Estelle Mouzin in January 2003, to shape her character. “I relied a lot, to prepare the role of Laurent, on the book of the father of Estelle Mouzin. He wrote this book which is called” Find Estelle “. And it is a book that Laurent Masson could have written from A to Z. I had it with me all the time, moreover, I referred to it all the time. I even rewrote passages by replacing Estelle’s first name with Marina’s “.
A not trivial way to give thickness to a father damaged by life and upsetting which should, without a doubt, touch the viewers of France 2. Who will have to wait for next Monday, and the last three episodes, to know the end of this thriller with its special atmosphere.