“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.”

VOGUE Hommes International (English) - - NIGHT ON EARTH -

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!

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