Dinner with À l’ombre l’après-midi
What were the circumstances of you writing the script for À l’ombre l’après-midi?
I wrote most of the script at the end of 2020, during the second lockdown. It had been rattling around in my head for a while and I didn’t write it as a reaction to movie theaters being shut down, but writing it was a peculiar moment for that reason. Then I waited until the last week before shooting began to complete the script, so I could choose the films that Quentin was going to watch based on the actual programming in theaters at the time of shooting. I wanted his slate of films to genuinely be what a Parisian film buff would watch at the end of July 2021.
Are you a big movie buff yourself?
Alas, yes, but less obsessively than Quentin all the same; he lives a bit too much for and by movies. Anyway, even though I’m not at all that character, I did lend him some of my opinions, while expanding the fetishistic aspects, especially regarding Shyamalan.
Why did you decide to shoot in Montsouris park?
My previous short film, L’Espace rapide, took place entirely in the Buttes-Chaumont park, and I wanted to film my other favorite park in Paris. I like to be precise about the places in my films so viewers can get a sort of geographical, documentary pleasure. In that regard, tracking down the shooting locations and camera placements for Cléo from 5 to 7 was one of the best moments in making the film. I recently discovered Rivette’s Up, Down, Fragile, and I was greatly touched by the scenes shot in the park. In the background of one of them, you can see the statue that we filmed during Quentin and Lise’s walk at dusk, which was surrounded by flowerbeds twenty-five years ago. Filming those places allows you to record a piece of History that no one is interested in and which is therefore important: there are no longer any flowers near the statue, but the hedges around the waterfall have become a jungle. Besides, I’ve had a beer or two in the park with people I love; I think there are lots of places I’d like to film because of that.
What interested you in the relationships among the young adults and do you think you’ll make other films about people that age?
For me, the characters’ age (all around 25-28) is the moment when we start to have regrets. There are friends we no longer see, desires and passions we’ve abandoned, a future that’s either completely mapped out or completely obscure… The result is that we look more at what separates the characters than what brings them together. Stated like that, it’s a bit sad, but I hope I made it a little bit funny too. My previous film focused on characters mostly of the same age, and teenagers for one of the three segments. I think I have a hard time writing about and filming people who are older than me. In any case, it’s never occurred to me to do so.
Is there a particular short film that has made a strong impression on you?
I could mention Guiraudie’s earliest films. The ones that are just under an hour (Sunshine for the Poor and The Old Dream That Moves) are sublime, but I also like his very short ones: Heroes Never Die and Straight Ahead Until Morning. He’s also really good at coming up with wonderful titles.
What’s your definition of a good film?
It’s hard to answer such a large theoretical question straightforwardly. This is what I can come up with: If Fritz Lang is at the helm, that helps.