May 14, 2022

Claude Lelouch : | CNEWS

At 84, the director has not said his last word. Claude Lelouch is releasing his fiftieth film this Wednesday, January 19, entitled “Love is better than life”. This dramatic comedy, which flirts with the irrational, tells the story of three friends.

While Gérard (Gérard Darmon), a compulsive smoker, suffers from an incurable illness, Ary and Philippe, played respectively by Ary Abittan and Philippe Lellouche, decide to offer their friend an ultimate love story. To do this, they call on the director of an escort-girl agency, played by Sandrine Bonnaire.

Your film is punctuated with miracles, and features… Jesus (Xavier Inbona). It’s quite daring. How did this idea come about?

She came naturally. My life has been full of miracles. I have made 50 films, and these are 50 miracles. And I wanted to thank them by paying homage to the irrational and the divine.

We also come across the Devil, played by Béatrice Dalle. Why did you choose a woman for this role?

Men are not evil enough, they are too naive. Woman is the supreme state in the history of generations and reincarnations. Men are children, they are not reliable, nor serious.

The title of your feature film sounds like a slogan, it is moreover sung, repeated several times by the actors. Why do you think love is better than life?

To use Charles Trenet’s song, every time my heart went boom boom, I felt more generous, that my life had meaning. When you are able to love someone else more than yourself, it is a delicious moment.

Friendship is the spare wheel of love.

Love is extremely fragile, it wears out very quickly, until the day it bursts, like the tires of a car. It is also a competition. You have to be the first in the heart of the other. In sport, when you come second or third, you are entitled to a medal, but in love, it means you are cuckolded.

By telling this love story between Gérard Darmon and Sandrine Bonnaire, you also show that love has no age…

Of course, love has no age. I wanted to film a Romeo and Juliet that would have had time to age. We can love in a thousand and one ways and at all ages. It is a pleasure that one can afford at any time of life.

Friendship is also at the heart of the story, through this trio of friends formed by Gérard Darmon, Philippe Lellouche and Ary Abittan, who met 20 years ago, on their release from prison. Without friendship, what would we lose?

Friendship is the spare wheel of love, of money, of life, of all our miseries. With a friend you can take comfort in many things. Love is the first division, and friendship the second.

After love, and friendship, there is money. With him, you can even buy love. That’s what Philippe and Ary did. This is the third big “A” in your film. What does it represent?

Money is not so disgusting as they say. A 10 euro note is not taken for a 100 euro note. With money you can buy a little health, love, and friendship. But he can also break everything. A love story must not become a business.

The filming took place in Paris, in particular in Montmartre, during the health crisis. What would have been different if that hadn’t been the case?

Initially, we were going to take a cruise in the Mediterranean. Gérard had taken a place on a boat to forget this concern and Sandrine would have joined him. Then the virus invited itself into the film.

Chance invented my life.

So I repatriated to the most beautiful city in the world, and in the most beautiful neighborhood of it. Covid-19 was right. This allowed us to tighten the thread, and to focus more on the characters.

Why did you choose, in certain scenes, to film the actors with their protective masks?

The truth is in people’s eyes. So I took advantage of the health context to emphasize the look, and be even more truthful than usual. It’s the only part of the body that can’t lie.

Even if he talks about death, a serious subject, he remains positive and makes us laugh. After seeing your film, we have a smile on our faces and want to savor every moment as if it were the last. Was that the goal?

Absolutely. You have to live every second of your life as if it were the first, but especially the last. In this way, we appreciate the moment more, we savor it.

Like Gérard when he drinks his potential last beer…

The idea for this film is somewhat part of my last meeting with Jacques Brel, a few days before his big departure (in 1978, editor’s note). He came to see me and drank a beer in my office.

I asked him what was so amazing about it and he said that since he’s doing things maybe for the last time, everything is great. “Finally I appreciate life,” he told me.

The other two parts of this trilogy will be the last of my career.

How did you feel after finishing ‘Love is better than life’, your 50th film, which is reminiscent of some of your previous films, such as ‘Adventure is adventure”?

I have the feeling, once again, that chance has invented my life. Normally, we should have stopped filming. This film is one more miracle in my life.

And there will be others. We learn at the end of the film that this is the first part of a trilogy. We can conclude that you still have plenty of ideas and things to say…

I have spent my life observing the human race, my favorite spectacle. All the dialogues, the situations in my films, I’ve heard them in the street, in the cinema, in the bistro… But I still have notes that I couldn’t put into my films.

I hope to be able to do so in the other two parts of this trilogy, which will be the last of my career. I will feed them with everything I haven’t had the courage to say so far.