LET IT SHAÏN

At 22, Shaïn Boume­dine is the lat­est heart­breaker to be dis­cov­ered by Ab­del­latif Kechiche. In the first part of Mek­toub my love, his trou­bling pres­ence eats up the screen. A young man of his time and a foot­ball fan, who’s not taken in by the star sys­tem,

VOGUE Hommes International (English) - - CONTENTS TRENDS - BY Sab­rina Cham­p­enois PHO­TO­GRAPHS Ethan James Green ST YLING Anas­ta­sia Bar­bieri

In­tro­duced by Ab­del­latif Kechiche, the re­mark­able Shaïn Boumé­dine is the young ac­tor to keep an eye on.

“Shaïn bright like a diamond”. Ri­hanna, the jewel of Bar­ba­dos, is sure to make al­lowances for it, as im­i­ta­tions can some­times be a good thing. Shaïn Boume­dine does shine like a diamond, with all the facets of youth and un­ex­plored po­ten­tial. The ef­fect he has, his aura, did not go un­no­ticed by the au­di­ences who saw Mek­toub my love: canto uno, Ab­del­latif Kechiche’s sixth full–length fea­ture film, which hit the screens in March, and in which Shaïn plays the lead, in his first film role. He is Amin, an as­pir­ing screen­writer, who re­turns to his birth­place, Sète, in the south of France, for the sum­mer. His par­ents own a restau­rant there. In the heat of the south­ern sun, with fam­ily, friends and some rather be­guil­ing fe­male hol­i­day­mak­ers, the young man is faced with a stream of emo­tions, games, chal­lenges and dilem­mas. Shaïn Boume­dine, 22, is ra­di­ant through­out, catch­ing the light, leav­ing au­di­ences weak–kneed, and at­tract­ing praise from men and women alike. He was im­me­di­ately asked what it’s like to be so de­sired, to be the young heart–throb of the day? With one of his dash­ing smiles and with­out a mo­ment’s hes­i­ta­tion, al­though the ques­tion has ephemeral pin–up un­der­tones: “I like it. It’s flat­ter­ing.” All the same, isn’t all that at­ten­tion, right from the start, and all those com­pli­ments, par­tic­u­larly on his strik­ing good looks, a bit em­bar­rass­ing? “No, be­cause, it’s done in a kind way. And be­cause I know that it’s noth­ing. And that it could all stop to­mor­row.” He would clearly seem to have learnt the les­son that “all that”, the me­dia cov­er­age, show busi­ness and suc­cess can quickly be­come a lure. And he’s learnt it so well that when he says it, it doesn’t sound clichéd or ring un­true. —›

“Even if I don’t last long in the film busi­ness, I won’t have any re­grets, I’m not afraid of fail­ure.”

Ver­sa­til­ity and good looks are clearly two of the main as­sets of Lord Kechiche’s hand­some young page. We turn up while he’s hav­ing lunch in a bistro in Paris’s 8th ar­rondisse­ment, and of­fer to wait. “No, no, that’s fine, we can start.” There’s no ner­vous­ness, His eyes are at­ten­tive, hold­ing the gaze of the per­son study­ing him. He’s the one who no­tices that the recorder isn’t on. “I ob­serve a lot”, he says. Clearly. When he doesn’t know, he says, “I don’t know”. The young page is com­posed, catches on quickly, and there’s no pre­tence.

He is so charm­ing, so ir­re­sistible, so unas­sum­ing, that it seems to be a mat­ter of course. But Shaïn Boume­dine says that he did won­der Why me? Why did Ab­del­latif Kechiche give him the lead role, af­ter — as ever — dozens of screen tests, in which he only had his eye on walk–on parts. “I didn’t ask him why, but I guessed that it was be­cause I had been my­self, so I worked to keep that nat­u­ral side.” “Be­ing nat­u­ral”, “gen­uine”, act­ing with­out any­one feel­ing that you’re act­ing is an ex­is­ten­tial, con­sub­stan­tial equa­tion for an ac­tor. When Kechiche’s cast­ing agent con­tacted him, he was on a dif­fer­ent and far more prac­ti­cal track al­to­gether. He was pay­ing for his sec­ond year at col­lege by work­ing as a waiter–cum–beach at­ten­dant near Fabrègues, a vil­lage some fif­teen kilo­me­tres from Mont­pel­lier where his par­ents live and where he grew up, a mid­dle child, sand­wiched be­tween two broth­ers. His fa­ther is a con­troller with the TAM, the Mont­pel­lier trans­port au­thor­ity, and his mother is deputy di­rec­tor of a hol­i­day ac­tiv­i­ties cen­tre for chil­dren.

Ab­del­latif Kechiche has a dou­ble–edged rep­u­ta­tion. He’s a bril­liant tal­ent scout ( Sara Forestier, Haf­sia Herzi and Adèle Exar­chopou­los among them ), but also in­cred­i­bly ex­act­ing. This means that he does end­less im­promptu takes and re­takes, driv­ing his ac­tors into a cor­ner. To such an ex­tent that the Palme d’Or prize he was awarded in 2013 for La Vie d’Adèle (“Blue is the warm­est colour” ) was rather spoilt by the nasty con­tro­versy it trig­gered and the bit­ter ex­changes be­tween Kechiche and one of his two main ac­tresses, Léa Sey­doux. Shaïn Boume­dine says that he had been warned dur­ing the screen tests, “But I like to make up my own mind”. So?

“Yes, Ab­del­latif is very de­mand­ing, but pri­mar­ily with him­self. He keeps go­ing un­til he gets what he’s look­ing for. And I un­der­stand that. At first, “cu­ri­ous about other people”, he sought to sound out the men­tor– di­rec­tor, to find out more about him, to get him to talk. He laughs: “But that’s pre­cisely what Ab­del­latif wanted from me …”. So the new­comer let him­self be­come putty in his boss’s hands, but still made sure he had his say: “Ab­del­latif makes us think about our char­ac­ters. Amin’s in­ter­est in pho­tog­ra­phy was my idea. I didn’t know any­thing about it, but I thought that it would suit him and Ab­del­latif agreed.” Kechiche also got him to read such works as Her­mann Hesse’s Sid­dharta, a philo­soph­i­cal novel about wis­dom and spir­i­tual eman­ci­pa­tion. “Ab­del­latif and I don’t talk to each other much, but we tell each other a lot,” says the young page, who pep­pers his con­ver­sa­tion with the say­ings of a wise old man. Quiet strength with the fea­tures of a young prince.

Shaïn Boume­dine is also the age he is. He doesn’t know whether he has al­ready been in love “se­ri­ously”. His white T–shirt says: “Take risks. Be bold”. He’s a fan of star foot­ball play­ers Lu­cas Her­nan­dez and Ben­jamin Pavard ( “Young guys who’ve got guts” ). Al­though Mek­toub de­cided him to make his way in film, he doesn’t re­ally have a plan. He made the next chap­ter in late 2017, and says, “I got even more plea­sure from the sec­ond film than the first be­cause I was more aware of what I was do­ing”. He smiles when he says that he will go “where the wind takes me”. No doubt to Paris by the end of the year “to go to au­di­tions, and try things that could help me get ahead, such as short cour­ses”. He’s in­ter­ested in the stage, and in di­rect­ing, and is work­ing on writ­ing “a story that is im­por­tant to me”. Times are tough, aren’t they? “Yes, but I have the im­pres­sion they al­ways are a lit­tle, don’t you think? He adds: “And even if I don’t last long in the film busi­ness, I won’t have any re­grets, I’m not at all afraid of fail­ure. And even if I man­age to keep go­ing, I might find some­thing else that in­ter­ests me even more, and I’ll head off in that di­rec­tion.” He speaks softly, with­out a hint of bravado, as if he were mak­ing a pledge to him­self so that he doesn’t get trapped. And if Shaïn Boume­dine were asked to choose a song on this July day, it would be “La Mau­vaise Répu­ta­tion” by Brassens.

Cash­mere sweater VALENTINO Wool and cash­mere trousers HER­MÈS

Silk shirt and tie and cor­duroy trousersFENDIStylist’s as­sis­tantsROBERTO PIUHairRUDY LEWISMake–upKARIM RAH­MAN

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