Xavier Dolan’s class of Cannes masters

Xavier Dolan’s stay at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival began well before the screening of Matthias and Maxime, his film in competition. The Quebec director was part of a moment as it happens almost exclusively here: a discussion with Julianne Moore and Werner Herzog.
It all took place in front of a very small, overheated and crowded room of journalists – by invitation – at the five-star Majestic Hotel, which also serves as a headquarters for several big players in the film industry. Not between who wants: we must show paw to safety (I go quickly every morning to pick up the daily magazines such as Hollywood Reporter and Screen ).

As often in these masterclasses, the discussion went off in all directions. But the passion that animates the trio fueled each of their interventions, whether it was about what ignited the flame of cinema in their youth, poetry, artistic vision or, obviously, parity (“a step to times, “says Julianne Moore).

So there will be little talk about Xavier Dolan’s new feature, which will be screened on May 22nd. We have nevertheless learned that the director of Mommy (2014) felt more comfortable playing it than in his first two feature films, which he found painful to see “because my head was always elsewhere”.

The secret this time? A good dose of humility in relation to his acting skills, constant learning from his actors “who are asked a lot” and, above all, “I surround myself with people who are extremely critical of my work. We redo [the catches] until it’s good.

Julianne Moore, the only actress, with Juliette Binoche, to have won an interpretation prize in the three largest festivals (Cannes, Berlin and Venice), and the Oscar for Still Alice (2014), and Dolan have moreover had long exchanges on their perceptions of the game.

“We are in two different realities,” said the latter. But, he added a little further, “my ideas are not important. The important thing is that there are ideas. ”

All under the amused eye of Werner Herzog, who considers that the actors, he had to contend with the execrable character of the unforgettable Klaus Kinski, are “the architects of their own scenes”.

The eccentric filmmaker of immoderation, whose career is studded with unforgettable films, such as Woyzeck (1979), Fitcarraldo (1982) or Intimate Enemies (1999), has often cheered the room. A great raconteur, the German showed his formidable sense of humor: “I do not care about my posterity since I will not be there.” On one occasion, Julianne Moore even laughed to tears.

Herzog also told a tasty anecdote about his focus on the essential, he who had only 300 minutes of film – he always runs with film – for Family Romance (2019).

While performing Bad Lieutenant (2009), his American team was very nervous because he did not add other plans to secure his catch. Nicolas Cage then reunited his relatives to tell them to drop: “This is the first time I work with a director who knows what he wants.” What made Julianne Moore say that it is “easy to work with a director who has a vision. ”

Despite the difference in age and career, the two filmmakers had much in common, including this feature: Xavier Dolan also runs in 35 mm. His film will also be one of the only competition, with the Tarantino, excuse the little, which will be projected “old-fashioned”.

The creator of I killed my mother , who turns 10, took the opportunity to make a small profession of faith in the cinema, even if it is “Netflix subscriber”. Discovering “things in the dark with people” amplifies the reactions. Or as Julianne Moore put it, “When you get into a film this way, there is a form of communication and understanding.”

This does not mean that Xavier Dolan believes that a film can change the world sociopolitically, climate change, for example. But each work, on a small scale, “you realize that you have an impact on people”.

Turning has an effect on the artist and the person. “My vision of the world changes with every film I make.”

The costs of this report are paid in part by the Cannes Film Festival.

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