Mathieu Amalric, the vibrant goblin of the French cinema

Actor and director performs Barbara, a biopic on the fascinating French singer starring his wife, Jeanne Balibar


The window of Parisian hotel resists. In person Mathieu Amalric ( Neuilly-on-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, 1965) possesses same playful spirit that many of its characters on screen, goblins who take refuge behind its big eyes and its enormous smile of joker. And with those weapons he has involved journalist in attempt to open a window so that actor and director can smoke. There is a padlock in between and an alarm that jumps somewhere in reception. Amalric doesn’t stop laughing with little girl. “We can’t even kill ourselves here!” Until a conical waiter appears. Impossible. Amalric looks at him and in 30 seconds he coaxes with his chatter. Result: The filmmaker smokes in room thanks to a cup reconverted into an ashtray. It must be incredible to have such a power of persuasion. “It’s not so superpower, ask my exwifes,” he answers laughingly. One of m, actress Jeanne Balibar, was trigger of new film as director of Amalric, Barbara, a curious artifact that surpasses mere definition of biopic of legendary French singer and songwriter Barbara, who began singing songs of her Friends Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens, until in decade of sixties it triumphed with its own songs. Amalric picks up an old project of his friend, Pierre Léon, and twists it. “Pierre tried to make film for eight long years; Three years ago he confessed to me that he was exhausted, and I passed witness. ”

He himself incarnates a director obsessed with an actress, Brigitte (Balibar), with which he is rolling a biopic of Barbara. In turn confronts actress, characterized and uncharacterized, with auntic images of singer. And as a final element, Paris of Sixties, which y all yearn for but of which re are still few traces. “In a sense, I surrender. I’ve done a biopic and I can’t spend energy denying it. Although I don’t like m in ir classic sense. Only if you can resurrect something from drive, from energy of legend you portray. For me, it is like when you see in a church paintings of saints, and with those images you rebuild life of those political, social heroes… while inside your soul rises. Do you know problem of biopics? That you normally lock actors in a prison, imprisonment of imitation. And real world will always be better. I bet on feeling, because audience feels character, and here I had a powerful ally in music of Barbara, which is popular even in countries like Japan, but because re are crazy. ”

Amalric is one of most famous French actors, with films both in his country and in Anglo-Saxon market like Alice and Martin, Kings and Queen, Scuba and butterfly, Munich, Venus of skins or Grand Hotel Budapest. If he was even a villain of Bond saga in Quantum of Solace. Barbara is her fifth feature film as director. “And in it I have allowed myself to play utmost. The structure can remember Russian dolls and so I have created a playful device that… “. A waiter enters with a coffee and Amalric his eyes light up as he exploits childish spirit and asks, please, some bun “to be possible with chocolate”. “Where was I? Oh, yes, my fidelity was only owed to Barbara. For three years I have become his greatest expert, discovering even unpublished songs of his. For love of Jeanne Also, I know it will sound weird, but in end you always feel a great affection for your friends… “. Enlarge photo Jeanne Balibar, in ‘ Barbara ‘. As an actor, Amalric fights his role. “I have a problem. I like to laugh a lot of myself on screen. And sometimes that doesn’t fit in stories, because mock. Now it worked because Barbara’s music carried her audience to most primal feelings: a laugh without laps, a clean cry… I asked my friends who listened to her live what y had felt, and y told me about a return to end of her childhood and beginning of her adolescence. ” The filmmaker confesses that he enjoys more as a director: “I started with 17 years in cinema as a production assistant carrying coffee, making sandwiches, and I never thought to go that far.”

Until his mor, literary critic in Le Monde, introduced him to Otar Iosseliani, great Georgian director. “I debuted as an actor with him, but who molded me was Arnaud Desplechin, and that’s why I always go back to Arnaud for 25 years. When I wake up, when I sleep at night, I think about making movies. And if possible with my friends, because I have some very talented. For example, musician John Zorn, whom I have been filming for eight years. As an actor I would love to be like a violinist of a symphony orchestra, perfectly tuned and ready for when director lowers baton. ” This metaphor has been pushed by his current sentimental partner, soprano and orchestra director Barbara Hannigan. “I’ve done several documentaries about your work that have made me complete my definition of an artist.” Right now, before launching in summer to a new interpretative adventure, Amalric is obsessed with Austrian writer Robert Musil. “Uff, I really enjoy hours I spend reading alone. has completed my vision of world. ” And as a final farewell, he pulls out of his backpack and shows a specimen of unattributed soft cover that is absolutely worn out. “Sublime.” [ . . . ]

Source: Mathieu Amalric, the vibrant goblin of the French cinema

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