That’s how I started shooting the film. We shot it … thanks to the seasons, the film needed the seasons for three periods. Starts in the spring, starts at the end, starts when she finds the bodies. Then autumn, then winter, February 2020. We would edit together with François [Gédigier] each time between periods with six-month intervals. And after the first shoot, I felt like we were too far from what I was really in love with…which was that woman’s fantasy. To observe someone, to be a puppeteer, to know me, to know that we are the ones making the film, producing the film, it was not the right feeling! She was too mysterious or too much of a saint and I was disgusted by the! It was actually clear that it was Clarisse’s character that made the movie. She makes the pictures, she edits. What attracted me was being in her head. Of course, the storytelling goes when you go inside a head [loud crashing sound] going as crazy as what we have in our heads even now. We are also thinking about something else right now. It became quite exciting to explore it with the tools of cinema. How can it be that we are in instinct, sensation, smells, sounds, light, everything! Everything! Those things got exciting.
So what I do, I always have a very precise chronology so the actors and crew know exactly where we are in time. If you put the story in order, it’s: she receives a phone call, your husband and kids didn’t come back from tonight, she comes, the avalanche people say we won’t find the bodies until spring. I think she went to the hospital. We filmed a scene in a hospital. But we took it out because it was actually too obvious. If she was crazy, the audience would be too protective. Then I thought she would stay in that house. Don’t move. Her friend who owns a gas station says “You have to move. You don’t want to wait until spring.” She takes her car, she takes that car because it’s his car, as we discover in a flashback at the disco, it’s the car that killed her family. That’s the story! And to me it’s like she could… [he puts his hands in the air feeling vibrations] …if there was a radio, she could … [he turns imaginary dials and makes static noises] … take a space trip, she could connect with them, like an antenna. And she can say, “Wow … what if my daughter was a great pianist? What if my husband, whom I no longer wanted, what if I want to see him naked again?” She can do whatever she wants. And of course we do exactly the same as she did. We prefer to forget that it is real. This denial. This is how we would be nourished. By getting close to her gesture.
You talked about how Alain Resnais, who you worked with a number of times, was in the back of your mind while filming this. And obviously there’s a lot of his film “Providence,” in which a writer revisits and revises memories as he dies and is then confronted with the reality he’s been fighting. It’s been fascinating to see in the last decade or so how important he’s become, kind of the key to this modernist moment. Why do you think he has become so important?
You know you’re right. I didn’t really think about that! Maybe… what you think of when you said it is [Resnais] was a guy who had fun. And didn’t just stick to theory. Because the theory dies. And pleasure never dies. Maybe it’s this thing he had about experimenting like a scientist. Works with trial and error. I think of Resnais, I had the chance to meet him the last time he went to New York and it was so moving. He loved that city. We went to see a Sondheim play. It was … it was his sense of humor. Yes. How he believed that there was no intellectual world that was not accessible to all. It was never about theory. But you’re right, of course I thought of “Je t’aime, je t’aime”, “Providence”, of course. But it would mix with “Rain People” from [Francis Ford] Coppola, and a lot of Japanese cinema about phantoms. How phantoms are treated, how they are real. They know how to live with phantoms so beautifully.