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Confidences Trop Intimes by Patrice Leconte

By Connell Patricia

A film by:
Patrice Leconte

Sandrine Bonnaire and Fabrice Luchini
Michel Duchaussoy
Anne Brochet
Helene Surgere
Gilbert Melki

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The Story

Walking into the wrong room, Anna (Bonnaire) ends up confessing her marriage problems to a financial adviser named William Faber (Luchini). Touched by her distress and somewhat excited by her presence - after all he is a financial adviser and does not get very often to meet women like her. As she breaks down in front of him, Faber does not have the courage to reveal to her that he is not actually a psychiatrist. He plays the game and agrees to see her again. When she does not turn up at their next appointment, he tries to find her and there begins his search for himself as well.
As time progresses, a strange relationship ensues. William is moved by the young woman, and fascinated to hear her confess her deepest secrets. But who is Anna and is she really fooled by this little game?

Our comment

This is a film true to Patrice Leconte: Each of his characters has a place and as time goes by they each, in turn, reveal themselves. Bonnaire and Luchini are both truly excellent. There is a real suspense that makes you want to discover who this woman is. Is she mad? Is she delusional or simply unhappy? How far in her confidence is she going to take this financial adviser whose only excitement in life is to analyse other people's financial affaires? Here, William gets to analyse someone's life and in so doing discovers how do free himself from his past.
Sexual references are always made and yet nothing is ever shown. Leconte makes you work it out for yourself. You feel that he wants you to get involved in the story.

Highly recommended for anyone ready to `take part ' in a sentimental thriller.

Interview with Patrice Leconte

Tell me about the birth of your new project.

Producers Alain Sarde and Christine Gozlan suggested I read something that Jerome Tonnerre was writing. It was 30 pages of a story that really enthused me. I felt that it was the foundation for a sentimental thriller. The story begins with a mistaken identity and evolves into something between mystery and desire. The story spoke to me.

What parts in particular attracted you to the film?

It's an unusual encounter that is both astonishing and intimate. The two main characters reveal themselves slowly, bit by bit. This is especially true of Anna, the character played by Sandrine Bonnaire. I like the fact that we want to know who is hiding behind this young woman. Is she simply unhappy? Is she delusional? Anything is possible, she could be in terrible distress, or she could simply be manipulating William.
Directing a film and actors with this in mind is a fascinating exercise. You have to play with appearances, leave room for doubt.

What drew you to Bonnaire and Luchini?

I had known Sandrine Bonnaire ever since MONSIEUR HIRE ("Mr Hire"), and was waiting for just the right opportunity to work with her again. As soon as this script was done, she was the obvious choice. She accepted the role immediately. Anna is a different range, more ambiguous, more raw as well. It's an opportunity to discover her in another way. With Fabrice Luchini, it was a different story. I had only known him as a spectator. Alain Sarde and Christine Gozlan suggested his name and I thought it was a wonderful idea.

This role is rather new for him, deeper, more exposed...

In this film, he is not fundamentally different from what he is in real life, but he reveals a sort of humanity, of fragility, and quite unexpected feelings. As far as I am concerned, we have never seen either Sandrine or Fabrice quite like this before.
When Sandrine, in the role of Anna, says such raw things, with such incredible confidence, and that sort of almost angelic calm, it is very strong. She becomes disturbing. He is not supposed to have heard her, and his world is turned upside-down, he begins to question everything. He walks into foreign territory, where he is no longer the master: the land of female secrets. This is also one of the aspects I found fascinating to deal with.

Sandrine Bonnaire and Fabrice Luchini are a rather surprising couple. How did they work together?

I had my mind set on a marriage of opposites. Two actors from different families who were simply not made to be together. If she had gotten the wrong door, they would never have met! Which is the subject of the film! Anna never should have met William, and Sandrine could well never have met her Fabrice.

Your film plays off the two characters' waiting.

This, I think, is what makes it a sentimental thriller. Mystery, uncertainty, fear, doubt and suspense, all built around the emotions. I don't dare say that it is a love story, because it is more perverted, more atypical, and Platonic as well.
I enjoy delaying expectations. For me, the most beautiful thing to film, the most touching part, is the prelude, what "comes before." This is not a matter of virginal bashfulness, just a question of being attentive, of respecting, of delaying "the moment when..." In this case a type of desire floats above their heads, a type of trouble of which they become increasingly aware. We guess when they are beginning to fall in love.

There are many strong supporting roles.

I had already worked with Michel Duchaussoy in LA VEUVE DE SAINT PIERRE ("The Widow of St. Pierre") and I was happy to work with him again.. He had a grand time with the role of the psychiatrist. More than anyone, I like Anne Brochet. Her character, Jeanne, was not really easy to pull off. If there is one person who got nothing out of this adventure, it was her. She is really incredible. Helene Surgere plays Madame Mulon, the good faithful "secretary from father to son" who knows the house like the back of her hand. She brings just the right maternal note to the character.
The character played by Gilbert Melki (Anna's husband), who is very important because Anna is always making reference to him, only has two scenes in which he really shows up. There's no room for the actor to make any false moves. Gilbert Melki was exemplary. I remember at one point his expression was dark, profound, terrible and then in the same instant it revealed a total fragility.

Interview with Sandrine Bonnaire

When did you hear about this project for the first time?

I was working on the film LA MAISON DES ENFANTS "The House of Children" which was shooting for television in July 2002, and when I got home, I found a letter from Patrice. I instantly recognized his characteristic handwriting, the red ink.

We met and he gave me the script to read. But he didn't utter another word. I read it very quickly and I must say I just fell in love with it! Jérôme Tonnerre is an excellent screenplay writer, refined, funny. He knows how to be touching without fear of being scathing. I appreciated the finesse of his dialogues. It boded well in terms of a juicy role that would be fun to act.

You have never acted with Fabrice Luchini before. How did that work out?

We had only briefly crossed paths. My sister, a costume designer, had made five films with him and told me a lot about him. I really had the feeling that I knew him a bit even though he is someone who likes to stir things up and play with appearances.

I quickly realized what a wonderful acting partner he was. We had a lot of fun together.

How did you develop the mysterious side of your character?

It was one of the essential aspects of my role. When I was reading the script, I was wondering who this girl was, whether she was perverse or just lost. With Patrice, we approached that from two angles. First of all, there was a playful and manipulative aspect. But we also talked a lot about desire. Her husband no longer desires her and she suddenly finds herself before a man that she seduces. This validates her and she takes advantage of it. It is only later on that she loses control, overwhelmed by her own feelings. With this shift, I was able to take some distance with the subtext, a distance that helped to create Anna's mystery. In spite of her ambiguity, Patrice wanted her to be a likeable character. It was important to feel her fragility, almost like a child, in order to justify William wanting to listen to her and come to her aid.

Her ambiguity evolves throughout the intrigue of the story. Can you tell us a little bit about this?

Everything in her attitude reveals her interior journey. She evolves. This translates in the way she holds herself - her dress, her behavior. The more she gets involved in this relationship, the more she opens up and blossoms. She wears brighter colors, takes off her gloves, casts off her raincoat... And she discovers herself.
The ritual aspect of the meetings was also important. Each time, we had to take it to another level, while advancing the story's intrigue. Each of their encounters had a specific thing at stake. (...)
When she says, "It's disgusting. You know everything about me and I know nothing about you. I could kill you." - this is a little acknowledgement on Patrice's part of my repartee in MONSIEUR HIRE "Mr. Hire" when I say, "I could denounce you." -- she really could have done it! Maybe she has a pistol in her bag.

Your character talks a lot, sometimes very directly, often using vulgar language. This is an entirely new range for you.

As I read the script, I thought the role would be difficult to play. I'm not used to using such vulgar language and I was afraid I'd blush. But the text wasn't written for shock appeal. What's more, Anna often only cites her husband. Her character feeds off this contrast. She is rather naive and modest herself.

How did you work with Patrice Leconte?

He and I have a very similar way of functioning. Patrice is not one to give speeches. He is more instinctive. He knows how to be precise without having to analyze things for hours. He shares his enthusiasm and possesses a real know-how. He knows exactly what he can ask of his actors. His greatest talent is organizing an encounter between comedians and the role they play, as well as the comedians with each other. And he knows how to film this. (...)

Do you know what you'll take with you from this film?

The enjoyment and the buoyancy of the experience. Even if it's too soon to judge, I think the film brings hope, and light. It's a springtime film. A film of renewal and discovery. There are a few shots where something brilliant emerges from Patrice's vision and Eduardo Serra's light. They even made me like the very big close-ups. The subject of the film allowed such an intimate approach, but it wasn't uncomplicated.
Anna will remain a key role for me. At the end of the shoot, I was a little sad that I had to say goodbye to this character. I felt good with her and William. This film is in a league of its own.

Interview with Fabrice Luchini

What do you think of the film ?

I am incapable of making a judgment, but I have seen Sandrine Bonnaire. This film succeeds exactly in the same way as all the so-called action films do with their car chases, shoot outs, love-making scenes -- there's all sorts of things and nobody does anything! Confidence Trop Intimes is as exciting as a thriller, as erotic as if the actors were nude all the time.
The great quality of this film is that it maintains an air of constant mystery without ever being opaque. Sandrine Bonnaire is never nude, but constantly desired. We do not see sexual scenes, but there is always a sense of desire.
How did you work with Sandrine Bonnaire ?

We had genuine exchanges. She is a great actress. Her intuition is powerful and right on the money. She gives a lot when she acts. She illuminates her partner. This film is all about a face to face encounter, there's no evasion. We had to lean on one another.

In watching the film, we forget who plays what role and find ourselves entirely absorbed by the encounter of these two people. How did this come about?

With regard to this point, Sandrine Bonnaire absolutely bowled me over. I often told her so. Achieving this sense of grace is rare. In saying it too often, the word loses its power. I don't think we can offer a critique. We are witnessing an actress who is sublime.
As far as I go, I am playing a role that is completely different from the type of thing I usually play. I am usually restricted to roles that require brilliance, verbal parry, paroxysm, quirkiness, humor, offbeat retorts. Here it was different story. I enjoyed playing the role because I was doing my job. I was performing with an actress.

You seem to minimize your role. This film is about an encounter. If one of the characters isn't into it, then the encounter has failed?

This film was a lovely present. It gave me a chance to play a role that required listening, both active and reactive listening.
In this film, Leconte captures much more than the work of a bad or good actress. He seizes a feeling, an alchemy. I don't have any theoretical discourse about it. Acting in theatre or cinema forces me to take a very pragmatic point of view. Who is this person? What should be focused upon? What must an actor be, his personality or his character? For both Sandrine and I, it was the character. Sandrine and I worked on it and Patrice filmed it.


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