“I go out when I’m in love, when I’m chasing after someone I met during the day who’s somewhere else at night.”
This issue is all about the night. What does night–time mean to you?
! Night is like day, it’s pretty vast (!laughs!). Like XAVIER DOLAN anyone else, I can roll in at seven in the morning, convinced that this time my body won’t recover, and that I’ll pay for it by having a baseball bat hammer inside my brain for the next twenty–four hours. Also, I work best in the morning, which makes it even more of a downer. But I’m afraid to say that night doesn’t make me think of partying as much as curling up in bed, just me and my pillow.
So when actress Monia Chokri says of you: “He can do a voiceover, VH attend a business lunch, watch a film, collect an award, console a friend, go out all night, go to bed at 7am, get up an hour later, write a script and apply for funding for his next film, all in the same twenty–four hours,” she’s making it up, or at least exaggerating? Not really. That sounds like your average Tuesday to XD me (!laughs!)!… though not every day can be like that.
Do you go out a lot? VH
I go out when I’m in love, when I’m chasing after XD someone I met during the day who’s somewhere else at night. But generally speaking, no, I don’t go out much. I hate to sound dull, but I’m past that. When I was 16 or 17 I had fake ID that got me into bars. Every night from Thursday to Saturday I would stay out until the small hours. I carried on like that until I was 20. I partied as much as I could and took every drug under the sun. Now I’ve “been there, done that” enough to know that when I do it again, it has to be with people I love. Not just for the sake of it.
Your second feature, “Heartbeats”, is called “Les Amours Imaginaires” VH in French, and you’ve said in the past that “impossible love” cements your entire filmography. Night is a breeding ground for feelings of love, wouldn’t you say? Imaginary, impossible love can take shape at any XD moment. More than anything, night brings the loneliness of love to a head, that dreaded, eternal solitude we spend our lives trying to avoid, as Maupassant remarked. Deep down, I prefer the time just before night, the twilight hour, the blue hour, the magic hour, when everything dies and is transformed. A time of mystery when anything can happen. A time of nostalgia and melancholy. Pink, mauve, orange, so many colours, it’s beautiful. With a few rare exceptions, Terrence Malick shoots all his films at the magic hour.
Which makes for expensive films!… VH And slightly tedious ones too, sometimes. A lot of the party scenes in your films are these pop–infused hiatuses, with an almost music video–like quality. They’re also tipping points, make or break situations!… True. These scenes, which could be no more than XD musical interludes, are usually when my characters find resolve or come through a watershed. In Heartbeats, the two main characters are invited to a party, where they see the guy they’re both in love with dancing with his mother in the living room. This scene more than any other expresses their love as something solid and to an even greater extent as idealised, through superficial, stylised references such as Michelangelo’s David and Cocteau drawings. In Laurence Anyways, Suzanne Clément’s character claims her freedom
VH at a fantasy ball played out in her head. Maybe she’s actually in some dive, but we see her as she imagines herself, walking into a vast space filled with smoke and coloured lights, where she finally realises that to be who she is, she needs something else, someone else. Then there are the other scenes in which they’re dancing or kissing in this blue and mauve light. Night is where everything seems possible for the happily in love. But not for me.
Scenes such as these have huge filmic and aesthetic implications, VH particularly for someone such as yourself who uses a lot of pop–inspired imagery. Some movies give the impression that the night scenes were written for the sheer pleasure of filming them, or just to play around with neon!…
For the pleasure of lighting, creating(… well of XD course. Then there are the film–makers who almost never include night scenes, such as the Dardenne brothers. Night– for–night filming means you’re no longer dependent on the sky or the sun. It opens up all kinds of moods that wouldn’t be possible during the day. The sets are no longer subjected to one and the same lighting. But it’s hell to shoot, especially on film [(as opposed to digital(], which is essential as far as I’m concerned. With film, if you don’t light absolutely everything, you don’t see a thing. So you have to keep inventing ways to create light. I feel this affects my filming in general. It’s more serious, more sexual, more dramatic. Sometimes I like to play around with light in daytime scenes too, using the same crazy lighting to produce this unrealism that is full of hope. Because of the moods it creates, light says everything there is to say about the story in the same way costumes say all there is to say about the character(…
At the time of making “Laurence Anyways”, you said you were VH influenced by fashion photography. Is this still the case?
Photography is very important to me, as is painting. XD A photo is often the spark for writing a scene. It’s a much less literal, less obvious inspiration than trawling through films. There’s a bookstore in New York, in SoHo, that I love, where I buy armfuls of photo books. Sometimes I leave with fifteen books, which I take back to Montreal. I would give you the address, except I don’t want anyone else to know about it. I have nightmares about other people buying everything and there being nothing left for me! Some people dream about waking up naked in a room full of people or in the middle of the ocean, and as much as I would hate to wake up naked in the middle of the ocean, I mean I wouldn’t want a shark to eat my dick, I’m even more terrified at the idea of going into this shop and finding nothing but empty shelves!