Visible at the cinema, “L’Étreinte”, first film by Ludovic Bergery, marks the return of Emmanuelle Béart on the big screen. She embodies a rare role, both sensitive and powerful. Meeting with the director.
She had, for a few years, privileged her career on the boards rather than that in the cinema. With l’Embrace, Emmanuelle Béart finds a role to her greatness. Previewed at the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival in August 2020, the drama follows the fate of Margaux, a woman in her fifties facing the death of her husband. Gnawed by loneliness, the one who had lived until now in the shadow of the one she loved will have to regain control of her life, her body and her desires.
Behind the camera, Ludovic Bergery directs and scripts his first film. To create his heroine, he draws inspiration from his personal journey and more particularly from his childhood, when he lived with his mother. “I saw her experience and meet people, he explains. It was the eighties and women were really starting to take care of themselves.“On the big screen, Hollywood was already seizing the subject by offering portraits of women who are freeing themselves. The author quotes In Search of Mister Goodbar with Diane Keaton and Alice is no longer here from Martin Scorsese as references.
Through his mourning character, the filmmaker wishes to approach the void, this space between life and death. The fiftieth year old searches for herself and lets herself be carried away to endanger her life when she finds herself alone with several men after an alcoholic evening. The spectator takes fright, but this abandonment is only one stage in its rebirth. “I wanted to talk about a moment of reconstruction, of a metamorphosis“, specifies Ludovic Bergery. Its actress, Emmanuelle Béart, carries all these ideas with elegance and sensitivity.
Desire can be a form of suffering.
She appears onscreen without makeup, more authentic than ever, and performs a score that seems to have been written especially for her. Taken by the theater, the actress was not destined to seize the role. She even helped the director to find the ideal interpreter, before a happy coincidence allowed him to participate in the project. In the skin of her character, Emmanuelle Béart illustrates an idea that is still taboo today: sexuality in a woman over 50. “It is a real social burden for a woman of her age to live alone and seek tenderness.“, emphasizes the filmmaker.
When she relaunches her studies and meets a group of young students, she has no choice but to face the gap with this generation who live their sexuality fully. “The film shows that desire can be a form of suffering. This is the case when we cannot access it for example“, indicates the director who expresses this thought in a sulphurous sequence taking place in a swimming pool. To protect herself, the heroine immerses her body in loose clothes to better extinguish the desire, not to solicit it.
Incarnated by Vincent Dedienne, the young Aurélien will forge a very strong bond with this lost woman. “It’s not just loneliness that brings them together in the film, but mourning, details Ludovic Bergery. They are marked by the absence and the need to fill something.“In this common quest for tenderness, the director wants above all to share a message of hope. He concludes:”These characters embark on a path towards the light, in a sort of renunciation perhaps, but the unexpected also comes. As François Truffaut said: ‘Life has a lot more imagination than us’“.
Interview by Thomas Desroches, in Angoulême, in August 2020.