July 2, 2022

Death of Jean-Marc Vallée | “Jean-Marc still had a lot of films in his stomach”

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always hated Christmas! “It is the knotted throat that Michel Côté remembered Monday morning the first line of the film C.R.A.Z.Y.

Dominic Tardif

Dominic Tardif

A phrase that resonated painfully in him, in light of the departure of his friend Jean-Marc Vallée, who died on December 25, Christmas day, at the age of 58. Sunday, around 2:30 p.m., the Sûreté du Québec went to a second home in Berthier-sur-Mer, where the creator’s death was noted. At the end of their investigation, no criminal element was identified and the file was transferred to the coroner, a normal procedure aimed at determining the exact causes of death.

“He was an extremely generous, extremely sensitive being, who loved life, who loved his two sons unconditionally. An incomparable talent ”, confided Michel Côté, who collaborated for the first time with the director on the set of Blacklist (1995), before finding it on that of C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005), a work hailed by both the public and the critics.


Michel Côté during the shooting of the film C.R.A.Z.Y.

It is especially for Michel Côté that the filmmaker had thought of this character of father who refused to accept the homosexuality of his son, but to which it was nevertheless difficult not to become attached. “I had it so much in my veins, the role, that I had the impression of not playing, but Jean-Marc kept telling me all the time:‟ Change nothing, it’s great, you’ll see what it is will give. ” It is a film that I have felt right down to the depths of my soul. ”

There are directors on a set who say to the actors: ‟All is well. I’ll tell you when it doesn’t feel good. ” While Jean-Marc also told us when it was good. He was telling us: ‘It’s wonderful, keep it up.’ He surrounded us with love.

Michel Côté, about his friend Jean-Marc Vallée

Despite Jean-Marc Vallée’s flourishing international career, the two men have always remained close. In 2020, the director attended with his two sons the tribute that Ciné Quebec paid to Michel Côté, in Saint-Hyacinthe.

“We saw each other a few times a year, even though he was very busy. We ate together, he told me his Hollywood anecdotes, we talked about our families. I think he loved me like a big brother. I made him laugh. He liked to laugh a lot. And me, I feel like I’m losing a little brother [il ravale un sanglot]. I am really sorry. ”

His ex-wife, the author and mother of his two sons Chantal Cadieux, testifies to a man “very intense, with a strong personality”. “He was also an unpredictable person. Jean-Marc could be there when we weren’t expecting him or not be there when we expected him, because he was caught up in his work. Unpredictable [jusque dans sa mort], because we did not expect that much. Jean-Marc was in good health, he was taking care of himself. ”

I would like to be remembered as a deeply Quebecois filmmaker, even though he worked all over the world. He always cared about working with Quebeckers. Sometimes he joked that it was because he understood them better, but it was also because it was important for him to make his world work. He was loyal to his collaborators.

Chantal Cadieux, ex-spouse of Jean-Marc Vallée and mother of her two sons

A filmmaker at heart

“I am in shock,” told Press director Denis Villeneuve. Their relationship dates back more than 20 years, to the time of the creation of Vallée’s short film. Magic words (1998), while they also both worked in the advertising industry. Jean-Marc Vallée, an ardent film enthusiast, had created a “directors club”: seven or eight filmmakers met regularly to watch a film over a meal, then discuss it. “It lasted for several years and then our friendship developed. ”

“When you do movies in Los Angeles, you always look at the shiny side, but that’s scary too. Jean-Marc was the only person with whom I could really share this adventure because he was going through something similar. We have developed a great bond, ”explained the director of Dune. let’s remember that Dallas Buyers Club (2013) by Jean-Marc Vallée is the first film signed by a Quebecer to have been nominated for the Oscars in the category of best film.

The main quality of Jean-Marc Vallée? “His heart,” Villeneuve replies. [Il avait] an ardent and dazzling desire to capture a truth on the screen, without artifice. He has developed a great discipline within a very assumed approach, which has earned him enormous success. Jean-Marc still had a lot of films in his stomach. ”


Denis Villeneuve

His friend and longtime collaborator Marc Côté was working on the creation of the next Vallée project, a fiction inspired by the life of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. What was the reason for the singular talent of his comrade? “The first words that come to mind are: no bullshit,” says the man who has acted as visual effects director on many of Vallée’s productions since the time he was shooting music videos.

He wanted things to appear on screen the way they are in life. He had a deep sensitivity that allowed him to see the emotions behind people’s actions.

Marc Côté, about Jean-Marc Vallée

“But it’s not all to understand these emotions, you must then be able to transmit them, you have to communicate them by using all the tools of cinema, music, dialogue, image. And Jean-Marc had the thoroughness that allowed him to use them all. ”

Give it all

At the time of being summoned to a hearing for C.R.A.Z.Y., Pierre-Luc Brillant held a civil servant job in the government of Quebec and had almost given up his acting career, which began as a teenager. He will emerge from this hearing inhabited by a happy presentiment, which his rich relationship with Vallée will confirm.

“Jean-Marc told me: ‘It’s going to be a great movie, expect a great success.” In my head, I had said to myself: ‟He does not take himself for a 7up flat, him…” ”, says in a big laugh full of sadness the interpreter of the character of Raymond, the rebel without cause of the Beaulieu siblings. . “But in the end, it wasn’t vanity. He just knew where he was going. ”


Michel Côté, Danielle Proulx, Pierre-Luc Brillant and Marc-André Grondin at the premiere of C.R.A.Z.Y.

The director and the actor never stopped exchanging messages – “If I had a question for him, he always answered within a few hours” – and talking about music, Brillant himself being a musician. “Jean-Marc would have liked to be a rock star more than a filmmaker, but unfortunately,” he said, pressing with tender irony the word unfortunately, “his genius was on the side of the cinema”.

How did Jean-Marc Vallée behave on a set? Pierre-Luc Brillant evokes a refined direction of actors, “but which did not always translate into a refined speech”. That is to say ? Before the shooting of a scene during which Brillant has to attack one of his brothers played by Marc-André Grondin – a scene that could not be performed more than once for technical and budgetary reasons – Vallée offers Brillant this laconic advice.

“He said to me: ‘It’s simple, you want to go over the table to cut his throat. But find a way not to surrender. ” Worse he left. I had asked the guys who played my brothers to hold me back, because I wasn’t going to half-leave, I had to go for real.

“Basically, Jean-Marc’s directive was:‟ Give everything, take nothing away. »Give everything: it was for Jean-Marc Vallée, as we will have understood, like a philosophy of life.

Producer of C.R.A.Z.Y. and of Café de Flore (2011), Pierre Even also praises the intensity and generosity of Jean-Marc Vallée who, less than a month ago, went out to meet film students at Concordia University, despite his busy schedule.

“He’s always been interested in what other people do. That’s what people mourn today: his humanism. And that’s what we see in his films, this way of putting human beings on the screen and putting the actors at the center of his creation. This is what we are all losing.

“For him, a day of filming was over, it was a day that would never come back, so it should not be missed. ”

With the collaboration of Marc-André Lussier and Léa Carrier, Press