The funny and original comedy, a champion in France, will arrive at the end of May on DVD, BLU RAY and digital platforms
Nothing is more important to a couple than their wedding day! Everything must simply be magical at all times. And to organize the perfect party, Max and his team are the best around! Pierre and Elena have decided to get married in a magnificent castle just outside Paris and have chosen to rely on them for a wonderful evening. Seguiremo tutte le fasi, dall’organizzazione alla festa, attraverso gli occhi di quelli che lavorano per renderla speciale. Pointless to say that
it will be a long day, full of surprises, twists and turns and great laughs… After the success of Quasi Amici, the most brilliant couple of directors of French cinema returns with a comedy to laugh!
INTERVIEW WITHÉRIC TOLÉDANO & OLIVIER NAKACHE
When did you first have the idea of C’EST LA VIE !?
Éric Tolédano: This film was first conceived in 2015 when Olivier and I felt a bit sad; we felt the need to work on something more festive. The idea was to laugh, to have fun, to describe the shortcomings of the society in which we live. And that desire was born at the same time as the idea of proposing the lead role to Jean-Pierre Bacri …
Olivier Nakache: I must say that the idea of a film often comes out during the shooting of the previous film, because emulation can generate stimuli and new ideas. La prima scena di SAMBA si svolge durante un matrimonio: è stato un long take che ci porta dalla sala da pranzo al dietro le quinte. It was an identification of what we wanted to do.
Do you always write the same way?
Olivier Nakache: In general, yes, I do. For a year, a year and a half, we do research on the subject we have chosen. For this film we were inspired by our memories, because during some of our most difficult times, to finance our projects, ÉRIC and I have done a lot of work in the field of organizing events, among the many that of waiter at weddings. We felt all the pressure of that work behind the scenes and this allowed us to accumulate many anecdotes on the subject. But as we were writing, we decided to also study the staff who are currently doing it to understand how those who work in the shadows can make these events so extraordinary. E pian piano abbiamo iniziato a disegnare i nostri personaggi.
Éric Tolédano: We usually share all our ideas, organize them into a pattern and then divide them into sequences to write. Because our computers are next to each other, we are each other’s first audience. But this time it was a bit different because a third person joined the group: Jean-Pierre Bacri. Because he is a writer himself, he soon offered to help us out. And so we had the luxury of having his opinion on our various versions of the script, to test the scenes and jokes with him in real time. It was a dream, having his words in our ears made us work with renewed energy.
Why did you wish to direct Jean-Pierre Bacri?
Éric Tolédano: Simply because for us he is one of the greatest French actors! We were impressed by the precision of his acting, his sense of rhythm and his way of speaking the lines. With him, everything is always impeccable. I remember a scene where he was on the phone, it was fascinating to see how it looked real. The other actors looked at him as if they wanted to learn from him. We’ve never had so many actors behind the monitor as when Jean-Pierre was acting.
Olivier Nakache: Bacri è una sintesi di tutto ciò che amiamo del cinema. She is very comfortable and credible in independent films as well as in less pretentious comedies, such as DIDIER. He is an actor who cultivates his rarity and when he accepts a project, he does it with total commitment. He is a person of great integrity and we love the way he works. With Gérard Depardieu (LET’S BE FRIENDS), François Cluzet (ALMOST FRIENDS – INTOUCHABLES) and him, we were lucky enough to direct great actors.
How is marriage a source of inspiration?
Éric Tolédano: It is an event for which every detail is meticulously organized. It is similar to a theatrical performance, with audience, costumes and roles to play (witnesses, parents, friends…). The complex organization that it requires inevitably creates stress, tension, a mix of emotions, and it is a moment that cannot help but complicate family relationships. It is also a context with which everyone is familiar, so it was the ideal background. But our goal was to observe the event from the point of view of the people who are there to work, for whom it’s just a day’s work, nothing more. This discrepancy necessarily creates comic situations.
You feel a certain connection with your second film, PRIMI AMORI, PRIMI VIZI, PRIMI BACI. Did you think about that when you were writing the script?
Olivier Nakache: La connessione è avvenuta gradualmente. Like inPRIMI AMORI, PRIMI VIZI, PRIMI BACI, there is place unit, time unit, a staff that directs the activities and the participants to the event. And Jean-Paul Rouve fully showed his desire to be funny. In this sense, one could say that it is a kind of “Happy Days”.
Éric Tolédano: PRIMI AMORI, PRIMI VIZI, PRIMI BACI It’s a movie that crystallized our nostalgia for childhood. Olivier and I met at a summer camp, maybe that’s why in our films we always focus on groups of people. In any case it is what allows us to “exist”, because cinema is first and foremost a team effort: we meet, we confront and then we separate…
Were you inspired by other films?
Olivier Nakache: Yes several, including WAITER! by Claude Sautet. In general, Sautet’s entire filmography has great significance for us. That film inspired our movements between the kitchen and the dining room. He showed us how to move from one universe to another in a single shot and how to represent the relationships between the waiters who make up the staff of a great Parisian brasserie. Sautet’s way of shooting allows the viewer to enter history immediately.
Éric Tolédano: STORIE PAZZESCHE by Damián Szifrón was another reference of ours, because it represents an x-ray of contemporary Argentine society. We were halfway through the script when we discovered his movie.
Olivier Nakache: And when we saw the last scene, one of the brightest, we realized that our aspirations were the same, because through an evening organized by less accomplished people, C’EST LA VIE! becomes a sort of mirror image of France today.
How did Gilles Lellouche get into the project?
Éric Tolédano: We imagined him from the beginning as the Master of Ceremony of the evening. Gilles is an actor that we particularly like, because he is able to move from one register to another without difficulty. For us it is the perfect incarnation of a rather fragile guy, whose dream was to succeed in the limelight but instead ended up organizing weddings. We feel a lot of tenderness and affection for people who sometimes get away from their nature, from themselves, to take on a simple role, people who cannot change their reality.
Olivier Nakache: His character begins with a cliché. The advantage of this choice is that we can gradually develop it, defining it more and more and enriching it with nuances. Gilles read the script and immediately accepted the role. When we asked him to work on the famous song by Eros Ramazzotti, Se bastasse una canzone, o Lovely Day by Bill Withers to a singer who specializes in weddings, he did it very seriously. Like Benjamin Lavernhe, who after spending every night three hours on the stage of the Comédie-Française, came in the middle of the night to interpret a difficult scene, harnessed to a height of 30 meters, under a huge bubble…
This is the third time you have invited Jean-Paul Rouve to play a role in your film. What do you appreciate so much about him?
Olivier Nakache: There is a very special relationship with Jean-Paul. He has a special place in our filmography, we started our career with him. He introduced us to Gérard Depardieu for our first film. It allowed us to get to know and grow in our work. And he had the lead role in PRIMI AMORI, PRIMI VIZI, PRIMI BACI, a film that is fundamental for us, that reminds us of so many strong emotions and that will remain indelible in our memory.
What makes a film so special?
Éric Tolédano: The problem is that when actors like to be together, the set can easily degenerate like playtime at school and so you have to play cop. The advantage, however, is the strong sense of mutual stimulation. What’s exciting is to develop each character to perform a role in history. There is something musical: we are a kind of conductor and, depending on the way the film evolves, we can suggest to the actors to add a small note or to make a solo. To compose a work that “sounds” correctly, it is necessary to create an authentic relationship with each actor.
Olivier Nakache: Joining Vincent Macaigne, Alban Ivanov, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Gilles Lellouche, Suzanne Clément or Jean-Paul in the same cinematic universe is very motivating. And every day we stimulated our actors in order to achieve a creative and harmonious result.
Have you worked out the choreography for the waiters in advance?
Éric Tolédano: We had a huge amount of rehearsal so that each actor could get to the right place at the right time. It took a lot of work to create the illusion that they were working and that all their movements seemed natural. The only question we asked was, “sounds believable”? We were obsessed with it because what we like when we’re in the audience is to immediately believe that what we see is realistic.
Olivier Nakache: The risk of telling a story that takes place during an evening in one place is that it might seem too theatrical. To avoid this, we had to find as a location a villa with decorations and rooms sufficiently different to offer many possibilities of movement. In this way the camera is never static and its movements bring energy and tension until the end of the evening.
Éric Tolédano: The versatility of the location was inspired by movies like LA REGOLA DEL GIOCO o HOLLYWOOD PARTY, and is almost a mirror of our professions. Some people had the feeling that we were actually talking about cinema in C’EST LA VIE! because it reflects the same kind of “anthill” frenzy that there is in making a movie. There are a lot of people behind the scenes in the cinema who are working to make sure that the shots are good on the screen.
Where did you shoot?
Éric Tolédano: Château de Courances, near Fontainebleau. A structure of the sixteenth century that belonged to Louis XIII …
Olivier Nakache:… and that it has the peculiarity of having thirteen natural sources on the ground so that it is soaked with water and we had to adapt. I must say that the shooting was memorable because the weather was rainy, and often we had to dodge the raindrops. In the film, just like Max and his staff, we had to adapt every day; even for our technical staff each dialogue was a sort of “echo” of our mood.
Music plays a key role in this film. How did you choose it?
Olivier Nakache: Avishai Cohen’s jazz accompanied us throughout the writing process. His rhythm was an inspiration to us because it seems so improvised but it is at the same time elaborate. It was perfect for the story we wanted to tell. Avishai Cohen had never composed film music before; we went to meet him after a concert and asked him to give it a try. He agreed immediately. It was a wonderful surprise.
Éric Tolédano: We always wanted a musician with a different touch. And jazz is the musical genre that fascinates us the most, because, as in movies, everything has to be synchronized to produce an emotion. Avishai Cohen’s jazz becomes a true character in the film, a musical synthesis, with percussion, darabouka, double bass, piano, all in an atypical rhythm. It perfectly illustrates this evening full of surprises and unexpected events. And that’s why we wanted the film to end on a real musical number in which everyone is present.
Do you think that in today’s French cinema the sense of fun that is lacking in C’EST LA VIE!?
Éric Tolédano: Many movies tell us how hard, violent and scary our world is. This film was written during the chaotic 2015 and clearly expresses the question: how can we preserve, despite everything, our sense of fun?
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