The Five Devils: Adèle Exarchopoulos in a breathtaking fantasy drama – Actus Ciné

Five years after Ava, director Léa Mysius returns with her second feature Les Cinq Diables, carried by a magnetic Adèle Exarchopoulos. The filmmaker tells us about this film which mixes fantasy and social drama.

Five years after Ava, his first feature film, Lea Mysius returns with a totally different film titled The Five Devils. The screenwriter and director who has collaborated with Arnaud Desplechin, Jacques Audiard and Claire Denis, this time tells a story of family and thwarted love by mixing drama and genre film.

With impressive sets enhanced by 35mm film, which brings an almost magical texture, Léa Mysius gives her characters a mystical and complex aura. The Five Devils tells how Vicky, a strange and lonely young girl, will use her overdeveloped olfactory faculties to be transported to the memories of her family, her village and her own existence while the arrival of her aunt upsets everything in her balance. and his unconditional love for his mother Joanne.

Currently in cinemas, the film is carried by Adèle Exarchopoulosand the revelation Sally Drama. AlloCiné had the opportunity to meet its director Léa Mysius during the Cannes Film Festival where the film was presented at the Directors’ Fortnight.

The Five Devils Adele Exarchopoulos in a breathtaking fantasy drama
F Comme Film – Trois Brigands Productions

AlloCiné: You completely change the scenery, compared to Ava, your first film. We leave the heat, the beach and the sand for the mountains, the forests and the great lakes in Les Cinq Diables. Is it an environment that is more conducive to fantasy?

Léa Mysius: Yes, it was the first instinct to make a new film contrary to the previous one. For Les Cinq Diables, I immediately thought of the cold and that influenced the beginning of my writing of this fantastic story. Obviously, I wanted landscapes that were both grandiose and at the same time suffocating and a bizarre atmosphere.

And I also wanted the ordinary so that the extraordinary stood out all the more. But Esther Mysius, the film’s artistic director and set designer, pushed me to go to even more fantastic settings in France, which we’re not used to seeing filmed like that, which make it possible to point out that the film will switch to gender. And that’s what’s beautiful, that’s how the turn can be done more fluidly and that I can tell the story I wanted by mythologizing it.

The idea was to make a fresco of characters with a fantastic story and with this main character, Vicky, who is a strange, burlesque, funny and disturbing little girl. She has a gift and an obsession for smells, especially that of her mother which she pots. And this faculty will allow him to know the history of his family and to reveal the secrets of his own existence.

Fantasy and horror flow fluidly through the film following a character path. We go from this lonely little girl to her family who suffered a tragedy and to an entire village which was impacted and which also impacted the protagonists. Apart from being a fantasy drama, the film is also a social drama.

The landscapes are suffocating too and I wanted to talk about racism and homophobia but not too directly to show that evil can be very insidious and that it can spread like poison. And sometimes, we remain passive in relation to that and it is dangerous. I wanted to distill this feeling through little things, moments of worry in an already worrying fantastical environment. I think it’s important to talk about it, especially in the current political context.

1661934133 817 The Five Devils Adele Exarchopoulos in a breathtaking fantasy drama
F Comme Film – Trois Brigands Productions

There are, however, quite frontal and striking scenes that will surely make the public react.

Of course, because I also wanted the viewer to be always active. Let it be said that some things are not normal and that there are no good guys and bad guys. That everyone is human and has their quirks. And I advance the reflection thanks to a change of points of view during the story.

So I wanted the viewer’s gaze to evolve and always be in an active phase, with a fairly political goal. If we are passive in the face of hatred for others and differences, nothing will change.

The choice to shoot in 35mm brings a certain magic to the film and allows a very rich, very warm image. Was it a will from the start?

I had already shot Ava in 35mm with Paul Guilhaume, the cinematographer, who is also a screenwriter. And I write in a very visual, very sound way and the fact of writing with the cinematographer brings a real plus because he is already thinking about what the image can give, even if I can think about it alone but Paul brings movement.

At the beginning of the writing, I thought of the memories and I imagined them in flash, in fixed plan. And little by little, we wrote with an idea of ​​movement by transporting Vicky directly into the memories, which we film in short focal length. It’s almost a video game and it’s thanks to this two-handed writing.

So I thought about it from the beginning to shoot in 35mm. And because of the Covid, we lost a lot of money so we wanted to take 35mm away from us, because in a budget, it’s the first thing that jumps out. I really wondered at that time. And then I thought of the films of Jordan Peele, which are modern films in their very sophisticated digital.

And I said to myself “Why not imagine The Five Devils like that?” and finally, it was impossible for me. The film was falling apart for me. The mix between the spectacular, the genre, the fantastic, the entertainment and the mystery was my ultimate goal. The balance was upset and I was losing the magic. So we stayed on 35mm and made sacrifices elsewhere.

We think it’s just a medium, but there is something strong about 35mm, almost sacred, which stuck to the energy and the universe of the film. The feeling of watching the rushes that arrive two days later is this desire that feeds the production. It influences the acting of the actors, the work of the technicians and my way of filming.

1661934134 386 The Five Devils Adele Exarchopoulos in a breathtaking fantasy drama
F Comme Film – Trois Brigands Productions

The revelation of this film is Sally Drame, who plays little Vicky. Was the young actress easy to find?

In fact, yes. She arrived quite early in the cast. When I saw it, I immediately knew it was her. I walk by feeling, by feeling and I have the impression of seeing my character when I see the right person. That’s how I choose my actors. It was the same for Noée Abita in Ava.

Then, of course, we had to work. Because Sally couldn’t act at all. It was a composition role for her because she is very different from her character. But she managed to find him little by little. We worked for three months and after that there was a year off filming, because of the Covid, the weather and everyone’s availability.

But it wasn’t so bad for Sally, because she was 8 when we cast her and she was still small mentally. She was afraid of losing the role in the meantime but she was still very young so there was no problem. And what was good is that she had matured so that helped her on set.

We worked again for a very long time with her, with Adèle, with Mustapha (Mbengue). We worked a lot on the expression of the face and the body. And then we worked on the lyrics and the scenes. Sally grew in intensity and by the end of the shoot I was really directing her like a professional actress.

Interview by Mégane Choquet on May 23, 2022 in Cannes.

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