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Agnès Jaoui and the Bonitzer family: “Whatever we liked would surely have pleased her”

Agnès Jaoui and the Bonitzer family: “Whatever we liked would surely have pleased her”



Prostrate in front of her laptop, Barberie Bichette (Agnès Jaoui) types away on her keyboard. Ma vie ma gueule is displayed on the page of the word processing software. She sceptically tries every font, comments on them out loud one by one, from the zaniest to the sternest.

But of what is Ma vie ma gueule the title? Of the film we are watching? Of the autobiographical work started by Barberie? As early as its opening scene, the film by Sophie Fillières muddles the limits between fiction and reality, between the character portrayed by Agnès Jaoui and the filmmaker’s own life. She used to say that she always needed the title of her film in order to be able to start writing it; thus are we invited, from the very first scene, into the process of Sophie Fillières.

The film is the last one to be directed by the filmmaker, who passed, aged 58, after being able to wrap filming. Ma vie ma gueule might be the most personal of the filmmaker’s projects, the one that seeks – sometimes with troubling mimicry – utmost synchronicity between the character she’s filming and her own reflection. The film follows three moments in the life of a 55-year-old woman that is numbed by a great existential crisis, and conveys the impression of advancing and stumbling alongside its main character.

Directed by Fillières while being aware of her own declining health, the film is a shout imbued with strength just as much as fear. ‘I exist. Here I am’, as per the notes written about her project by the filmmaker.

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‘When I saw the film, I didn’t see myself. I saw Sophie. Well, another Sophie, or perhaps another me. Something between the two”, says Agnès Jaoui, before commenting on the entire process that was set up by the filmmaker in order to let the two beings coalesce together. “I was dressed like her. In the mornings she would hand me her jewellery, which I would give back to her at her house. We were filming at her place. Her actual therapist is in the film. I’m actually wearing her own shoes, right now. At the time, they were brand new. She told me it was the most comfortable option. It is true that wearing sneakers changes everything about one’s body language”

The filmmaker’s daughter, Agathe Bonitzer, admits that there has alway been a work on resemblance between the actresses chosen for her films and the director herself. “People would often tell her: ‘It’s crazy how Emmanuelle Devos got inspiration from you’ After the film Un chat, un chat, a lot of people talked about the similarities between Chiara Mastroianni and my mother.” Adam Bonitzer, the filmmaker’s son, goes on: ‘It is surprising, because Devos, Mastroianni and Jaoui are all very different actresses, but I do think that yes, indeed, there is something that gathers them all, each time. Some sense of mimicry.”

When talking about Ma vie ma gueule, Agathe Bonitzer admits that there is one additional layer which takes the film towards autobiography. ‘It truly is her own language. There is something about her that shines through, even merely in the dialogues, the words that were chosen.”

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Before her death, as she felt that she would not be able to handle the film’s postproduction to its end, it is precisely her two children, Agathe and Adam, that the filmmaker asked to supervise the editing of the film, alongside François Quiquer. ‘From the moment she asked us, it truly was like a mission. I won’t say it was easy, but it was obvious’, says her daughter Agathe Bonitzer. He brother Adam adds that some artistic choices had to be made: ‘What we like, she must have liked as well. I think this is the way we should think about this. Yet it still is her movie, one hundred percent. I think it’s visible to anyone discovering the film.”

Agnès Jaoui remembers the specific motions that would guide the creation of the film on a daily basis. ‘Everyone made this film out of love for cinema and for Sophie. Because we all believed in it. It always creates something very unique.’

The post-credits shot of a rainbow does make the issues of transmission and heritage – already at the very core of the film – even more moving, because of the trajectory of the character of Barberie, escorted, in the film, by her children, as well as because of the filmmaker’s choice to hand out the film’s final touches to Agathe and Adam.

‘It is a shot that was filmed sort of off-handedly, that wasn’t necessarily planned, but this rainbow happened. I think that it was a sign, even at the time of filming. It was a sign that we kept in.” Agathe Bonitzer adds: “For us, it is some sort of nod; it is us thinking of her. And her thinking of us” A dialogue through images that defies death.

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Source link : https://www.lesinrocks.com/cinema/agnes-jaoui-and-the-bonitzer-family-whatever-we-liked-would-surely-have-pleased-her-618280-15-05-2024/

Author : Ludovic Béot

Publish date : 2024-05-15 16:37:30

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