More attractive than ever, Fanny Ardant and Melvil Poupaud embody the couple in Carine Tardieu’s film, “Les Jeunes amants”. The story of a passionate love between a 70-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man. Meet the duo of this melodrama.
In cinema, the greatest love stories are also the most transgressive. In Les Jeunes amants, a film directed by Carine Tardieu, a woman, Shauna (Fanny Ardant), falls in love with a man (Melvil Poupaud) whom she had met a few years earlier, in the corridors of a hospital.
She is 70 years old, he is 45. She is a widow, he is a married father. This is how this crazy and passionate romance begins, so far from the codes of today’s society.
Even before the film begins, Les Jeunes amants is loaded with an unusual story. This liaison is not a work of fiction. The character played by Fanny Ardant is inspired by the mother of Icelandic-American director Sólveig Anspach. Died in 2015 from cancer, the filmmaker was never able to bring to the screen this story which she held so dear.
It is therefore Carine Tardieu which stages this delicate promise made to the artist. “I knew Sólveig, we were friendsshe says. When I was offered the project, I wanted to refuse. I found this story too dark. Sólveig Anspach wrote the first draft of the screenplay when she was ill, so she was telling her own finitude.”
After careful consideration, she reconsiders her decision. “The Young Lovers tells of his life force. Alive, she was until the end, she was laughing until her last day and that’s the subject of this film: not to miss out on her lifeunderlines the director. I wanted to talk about it with Clara, Sólveig’s daughter. By taking up his mother’s project, I had to make it my own. His feelings and his words freed me from a weight.”
To create the couple in this story, Carine Tardieu turned to Fanny Ardant and Melvil Poupaud. In their respective careers, they have both already given substance to passionate loves. The woman next door by François Truffaut for the first and Laurence Anyways by Xavier Dolan for the second.
For the choice of Fanny Ardant, the filmmaker bluntly states: “She is one of the few actresses who assumes her age. She accepted that I film her as a 70-year-old woman. I said to him: ‘This film cannot exist without you.’ I knew she was gonna have that courage.”
The main interested party is delighted to play a woman “free”. “All her life she demonstrated it! She does not follow the dictates of society which say: ‘At your age, you have to stay in your corner.’ Despite her 70 years, she remains alive. She never gave up”, explains Fanny Ardant.
As for Melvil Poupaudthe director was looking for an actor “at the same time virile, sensual, sexy, who can embody a solid father, but whose flaw we feel, that we can believe that a story like this could upset him”. This role is a transgression in itself. It is not uncommon to see men falling for much younger women. The opposite is still a problem. Here, the roles are reversed.
“In this history, the revolutionary character is that of the manlaunches Fanny Ardant. We have always confined the man to these clichés, of the one who prefers the sexy blonde or the one who is not cold in the eyes. The lighting we have of this man is magnificent. He is outside the context of our society and he is the one who has the last word..”
Interview by Thomas Desroches, in Angoulême and Paris, in August 2021 and January 2022.
Young Lovers, in theaters February 2, 2022.