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What you're talking about reminds me somewhat of the end of your last film, The Father of My Children. They're both about a young woman who learns to be in the world, to participate in culture and the life of Paris. And you've worked with a couple of very gifted young actresses, and given them that experience to go through. How much control do you try to have, as a director, over the actresses? How much do you try to let them discover it on their own?
I think I trust them. I think on the one hand I work a lot on the set, meaning I make a lot of shots. I don't know how it is here in the U.S. but in France there is some kind of an average of how many shots you make. And it's more like six, seven, eight, something like that. And we do more like 17, 18. And on the set they were making bets on how much I would do. But I didn't do that just because... Very often the more I work, the more things I get and at the end I have the feeling that I got the scene. And that I didn't know before what it was. And that's how I'm working with them. And that's the part that really, on the set, we work a lot together.
On the other hand, I think I trust them a lot, meaning I'm not really there to make her give me a lot of psychological connections, or talking about the characters. I trust much more the concrete indications, I work much more on the rhythm of the scene. And the young actress I work with on this film, she's extremely instinctive, she doesn't talk. In the beginning when we started, I didn't know her very well, I didn't know how she felt because she's extremely shy, she never says anything about her feelings, and I don't know how deep she was feeling things, if she needed me. In the beginning I was telling her many things or I tried to because I thought, I dunno, maybe she wants me to do that. But eventually I would just, like [nods], "Could you be just like... yes? Ok."
When you're making a film about being a teenager, are you trying to be faithful to reality, to memories? Or are you trying in some way to heighten it, to make it a little more cinematic?
No, not at all. It was really an obsession to be faithful to my memory and my experience of life, even if it's not glamorous, or even if it's deceptive, and if it doesn't go in the direction you would like it to go to. When I go over my screenplay I always make a religious effort to eliminate anything that's something that would have come in because it's an influence from another source or something. I like it to stay very close to me. I think you want to be original, not try to be universal. I've always written with the faith or the hope that the more specific I am, the more honest I am with my own experience, the more chances I get to, maybe not to be universal, just to touch people in a deeper way.