After "Kings and Queen" and "A Christmas Tale", the filmmaker finds Roubaix and the Vuillard family, at the heart of his filmography with a brother, Louis, and a sister, Alice, played by Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud, who have boundless hatred.
He is a belatedly successful writer, who settled accounts with his family in his books and retired from the world after the death of his child, she is an actress in great demand, angry to death with her brother, to the point of physically unable to be in the same room as him.
Until the accidental death of their parents.
Coming from a sibling of creators, with a writer sister, Marie, and another screenwriter, Raphaëlle, did Arnaud Desplechin draw on his experience?
"We have normal relationships", he explains to AFP, while acknowledging that relations between brothers and sisters are by nature "always complicated".
It is however in the family soil that this specialist in love and family behind closed doors draws some of his inspiration: "when you scratch, you remember the anger you may have had at five years old" against a brother or a sister".
"Deep inside me, inside me, I say to myself + if I had really nightmarish feelings with one of my sisters, what would it look like? So you add layers and then it gives characters + bigger than life + (larger than life). But I'm afraid I'm life-sized."
In the film, "haunted by very dark reasons for mourning" and in which, "more than ever" Desplechin admits having exorcised his fears, it is the death of the parents which precipitates the events, forcing the characters interpreted by Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud to confront himself.
The actors of the film "Brother and Sister" by director Arnaud Desplechin on the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival, May 20, 2022 Antonin THUILLIER AFP
"I was horribly unhappy to film that," says Arnaud Desplechin of the car crash scene.
"I'm lucky, at my old age (61, editor's note) to still have my parents alive. But I said to myself, in this film, I have to confront things that terrify me. I have to learn in fiction what it is to lose your parents.
Irrigated by these fears and these experiences, Desplechin tries to transmit this state of mind to his actors, confirm Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud.
"Arnaud knows how to put people in a particular state", confides the latter: "I was very excited at the idea of shooting with Marion, but I felt on the set, or even behind the scenes, that there was a something that was being played out and that was beyond us, us actors".
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