Michel Hazanavicius had the blues after the resounding failure of “The Search” (2014). Then, he reads “A year after”, the autobiography of Anne Wiazemsky about her romantic relationship with Jean-Luc Godard. In 1967, the young actress turned “La Chinoise” with her husband, the famous director, 17 years older than her. The exit is a bitter failure, which triggers at Godard a deep questioning. Hazanavicius is quite recognized to decide to laugh with his comedy “The redoubtable”.
Q Why tell this story?
RI was very touched by these characters and their love story. Both have charm. Godard, despite his unbearable side, has charisma. He is brilliant despite everything. You do not have a nice guy and a bad guy, but people who tear themselves up in a rather tragic way. Both want to love each other, but they love each other badly. After that, there was the context: May ’68, that I had never seen at the cinema told like that, this passion, this joy. I was born in March 1967. I was one year old, I feel it was my cradle all that. This Parisian intelligentsia, which is becoming more radical and becoming very Manichean, is something that I feel here in Paris, in our society. More anecdotally, this story of a director who thought to make a film that would mark the story and that is bad, despised, the state in which it plunges him,The Search , which has completely fallen flat. I felt it was a space that I could invest.
Q Did Anne Wiazemsky, who passed away in October 2017, have time to see the movie?
A Yes, she was one of the first to see it. I thought it was normal since I adapted to her point of view. She was very moved by the film. She absolutely recognized the Godard she knew, at least she remembers.
Q And Godard, him? At the press conference in Cannes, where the film was in competition, you said you expect an unpleasant comment from him.
R Comment that did not come. I do not know if he cares or if it’s voluntary indifference. But, you know, it’s been a long time since he retired from social life. He is a loner. I think The Fearsome tells this fracture that crystallizes in his life.
Q In the film, you depict a Godard who advocates the emancipation of women, but who is very reactionary in his way of loving Anne Wiazemsky. Did it hit you?
ROf course. But he is both at the same time. However, I had to find a way to keep the viewer’s empathy to the end. He is destructive, but he himself is his victim: he had everything in his hands and he is destroying his life. It is a being of paradoxes. He is truly progressive. But, at the same time, he was born in 1930 into a very rich, Calvinist family. He has in him the reflexes of the big bourgeoisie. He would like to make the revolution, certainly, but with his wife at his side: he has a very possessive side. But these paradoxes make it a character that is traversed by conflicts and dynamics all the time. He has a temperament that begins with destroying and then see how we will advance on the ruins. On top of this comes the crisis of midlife and the crisis of a creator who finds himself at the end of a cycle. And he does not know what to do. When he arrived, he was artistically revolutionary. But seven, eight years later, this way of doing things is routine. He must begin by destroying everything he has been. The accumulation of crisis states makes it go far too far.
“He’s destructive, but he’s his own victim”
– Michel Hazanavicius about Godard
Q Before reading this book, what was your relationship with Godard?
R Like everyone who is interested in cinema, a respect almost obligated. I had a very classic relationship. I had a lot of affection for the movies of the 1960s, basically until La Chinoise . It’s attractive, brilliant, in a way very accessible. After, I have a double report. On the one hand, I am less sensitive to his approach, the movement of cinema, research on language … On the other, I have a lot of admiration for this approach, his ability to float in the world of cinema with this one is totally unique. But I see more of an artist who is between cinema and contemporary art.
Q Did you choose Louis Garrel from the start to embody Godard?
A Yes, I had heard him imitate Godard on a radio show. He can do it a lot better than he does in the movie. Initially, he did not want to fuck Godard. I thought there had to be signs that the viewer could hang on to. We talked for a long time, then we agreed on an in-between. He gives signs, but without pushing hard. If you make an imitation, it will be an imitation of a Godard, that everyone knows. We did something less marked, more open to different situations [in the film].
The formidable takes the poster on May 11. The costs of this report were paid by UniFrance.