Thursday, September 16, 2004

L'Equipier (The Light)

L'Equipier is a movie set in the 60's, about a man named Antoine, played by Gregori Derangere, who comes to small town in Brittany to take up an open position as a lighthouse keeper. His interactions with Yvon (Philippe Torreton), another lighthouse keeper, and his wife Mabe (Sandrine Bonnaire), form the core of the movie.

The story is framed by scenes set in the present day, with Yvon and Mabe's grown daughter returning to the town to sell the family home after the recent death of her mother, and the death of her father 10 years previous.

Like other movies at the festival this year, the film looks at an outsider coming into a close-knit community and the effects that has on the people, and the prejudices that are stirred up. The film portrays the Brittany coast breathtakingly, with dramatic shots of storm-battered lighthouses. The story involving the main characters is gentle and understated, and the characters themselves feel real. They are not simply stereotypes nor are they drawn to make the decisions they take in the film easier. Because the leads are all sympathetic characters, it makes their actions all the more poignant.

Philippe Lioret appeared to give a Q&A session after the movie:

- All of the roles in the film were cast after the screenplay was finished, with the exception of Sandrine Bonnaire. Lioret had contacted her while he was writing the script. At one point, tired of writing, he stopped and turned to another movie, Mademoiselle, which he wrote and directed. The play within that movie is actually the story of L'Equipier.

- The dramatic shots of the storm-battered lighthouse were real, with the exception of two shots which had to be animated by computer. The real shots were taken in the autumn and during winter storms.

- Lioret is not a Breton himself, but believes that wherever you are, the problems are the same, that it is difficult to enter into a microcosm anywhere in the world.

- The film took about 5 years total to write, and about 10 weeks to shoot.

- The first draft of the script took about 1 year, 6 months to write, and then he spent time adjusting it. Two things he doesn't want in a movie are for the audience to feel that a script is there or that a camera is present. He worked on the script to remove scenes so they weren't too literary or had the feeling of a writer behind them. When shooting, he focused on the characters' faces so that you don't realize that you are watching a movie.

- Shooting the sea was difficult, and sometimes the weather was too good.

- Forget the sea, forget the love, the movie says something about our parents and friendship. It asks who are our parents, and that the memory of our life is mainly in the houses where we were born or where we grew up.

The following Q&A items contain spoilers, so stop reading here if you haven't seen the movie:

- When asked why he limited the interactions, especially the physical ones, between the two leads, Lioret replied that it was because the relationship was taboo for them. They had feelings that were stronger than themselves and impossible to realize. But the more they avoid them, the stronger the feelings become.

- A question was asked about the cannery owner, and his decision to reveal his knowledge of the affair. Lioret was asked if there was more to the cannery owner's story, and in response, he gave the character's back story, which was not in the movie. The cannery owner and Mabe had been together at school since he was 8, and from there through his teens he had admired her from afar. He was ready to make a move at 18, but then Yvon moved to town and beat him to her. He couldn't accept that he had lost her; he thought he had an inalienable right to her since birth.

- The characters are fictional, but many attributes are taken from people Lioret knows, including the cannery owner.

- Lioret was asked about his decision to have Antoine torture Algerians in his past. He replied that France's actions in Algeria was a subject not talked about until the last 10 years. Lioret found it a troublesome period, and his way of dealing with it was through this film.

- In the first draft of the script, Mabe did try to contact Antoine after, but Lioret said that he likes it when you see a film, it can be something else, or open (to interpretation).


My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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