That love: an interview with Jeanne Moreau.

“That love” is not just another film, in many respects it is extraordinary [1].

“That love” is the name of the film by Joseée Dayan which has just been released on French screens.

The film is an adaptation of an autobiography of Yann Andréa [2], who shared the life of Marguerite Duras, a woman of letters, for more than 16 years until she died.

He was 26, she was 66 at the start of their relationship. On the death of Duras, Yann relived years of passion, both sublime and passionate. It is the basis of the book.

Behind the film is Jeanne Moreau, a great lady of cinema.

… I knew Marguerite Duras very well over quite a long time.

And then Joseée Dayan, director, was interested in making a film with Jeanne Moreau:

Simply, we wanted to make this film together, and it was necessary that the subject, certainly in our eyes, be dignified by our wish. It is true that when Jeanne suggested to me this story, personally I was overwhelmed, you see.

In effect, they entered into a life of delirious intimacy, out of season, beyond the norms, of two rare human beings who are living an exceptional relationship.

Duras was in a period of loneliness and she had practically stopped writing before meeting Andréa: the great writer of romantic literature, author of “The sailor from Gibraltar” was no longer writing newspaper articles. Yann, a young admirer, enthusiastic reader of novels, succeeded in breaching the barriers of isolation which Duras had built around herself, and he became the source of a new period of artistic inspiration.

As for the age difference…

I believe that that put some thing between them. It is a thing that… She must have thought about it. She, she must have thought about it and it is, without doubt, the reason why endlessly she used to say to him: do you love me?

But as they lived a closed life, not all the time, no. They had friends, but they were people who kept themselves to themselves, all the same, it’s not… she used to muck about and he too somewhere, he used to muck about. But it was that which gave birth to their writing because you must not forget that when he met her, she was not writing then perhaps the wear and tear due to alcohol was beginning to do its work… So he arrived at the time when she was, if I may say so – dry before a blank page [3], and that gave her a jolt. It was that, more than love, that gave birth, that brought about the books which made her famous all over the world, which had her earning crazy money. When she said: “Let’s go, we need to earn some money for this winter, we are going to write a book, let’s get on with it!”

Jean Moreau is a skilful actress, clever and beautiful. Orson Wells called her the best actress in the world. The star of “Jules et Jim” and of “Le Procès” is perhaps the only actress in France today having both the sill and sensitivity necessary to play Duras at this advanced age in her life.

The irony is that it was much more difficult to find someone who could play her counterpart. After a long search, Josée Dayan finally found the ideal actor by the name of Aymeric de Mariguy:

I had a lot of trouble finding Yann, because frankly I wanted someone who might have the distinctive characteristics of Aymeric. It is the ability to listen, the ability to… that you can imagine that he can understand the books of Duras. That we can image that at the same time this discretion and this emotion on meeting this person who has fascinated him since he was five, about whom he has had fantasies and at the same time he lives truly without servility, and he did not have the least ambiguity on the possibility of being a gigolo or worse. I wanted that there be a magnificent relationship, like that there had been between Yann and Marguerite. I wanted than someone who releases this… at the same time this purity and this quiet peace, you see.

So this film embraced totally “Cet amour-là” up to the osmosis. Asked about his role, Aymeric replies without hesitating:

I had really the feeling of being him, and in any case, I believe that Jeanne would not have let me play the role.

Me, neither.

And Josée even less.

Jeanne Moreau explains this behaviour which may appear strange:

I completely forgot Marguerite as I was telling you, and really what kept me going all the time during the preparation of the film. It is truly all that she wrote, all that she wrote and all that Yann wrote.

But… I did not think about playing [the role]. I say very often that my ambition gradually as the years pass, is to get to the point of forgetting oneself, myself, letting go, being a sort of garden hose, looking after the garden hose so that it is not blocked… so that it all comes through. You see? It is not a mental thing… it is a sort of … we use a word from the poets in the eighteenth, nineteenth centuries, we say inspiration. Personally. I really believe in it.

In fact during the filming, the scenes were lived like that day after day for four weeks, most often with a single camera, without retakes.

It was filmed in order from the beginning to the end. I was in another life. And what helped me a lot was the Josée had met and chosen Aymeric, because Aymeric was not known to me. I had not projected images from movies he had made, you see when… No one said to me: he is like this, he is like that. We met, the two of us, as if… well… as you do in life, right?

We can feel the presence [of Marguerite Duras and Yann Andréa ]! The relationship between them, body and soul.

Completely inspired, imbued, Jean Moreau is Marguerite Duras. She shares and wants to have people share this experience.

I hope that one day you will be that…

[1] Cet Amour-là – the film is available in DVD and is available at Amazon.

[2] Cet Amour-là – ISBN 978 225 315 0008 – the book is available at Amazon.

[3] The usual English expression would be – suffering writer’s block.

$Id: 2002_01_cul.htm 35 2021-02-12 12:17:35Z alistair $

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