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Jean Boiron Lajous

Jean Boiron Lajous
Whether in cabaret or in labial synchronisation, one of the most enjoyable games is to make yours someone else’s voice. Ventriloquized by a series of famous media voices the viewer can have fun identifying, the actor of Il faut se tromper moves from room to room and character to character over the course of a sunday wander through his appartment. Beyond the confusion of identities, Valentin Dilas’s magisterial performance, skillfully directed by Jean Boiron Lajous, speaks of how we incorporate the discourses of others and how their inner pathways structure our attitudes, including the very way we walk. (Claire Lasolle)

Interview with Jean Boiron-Lajous

Your previous films often dealt with political issues. Il faut se tromper is a much more intimate story. How did the desire to adapt the play Playback, written and performed by Valentin Dilas, come about?

I think that one of the reasons that impelled me to make a film with this actor, and starting from his one-man show, was that he dared to tackle the intimate. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never really had the courage. Using his show as a starting point allowed me to ask myself fewer questions.

The actor’s performance sets the pace of the film. How did you work out the staging together?

When I saw Valentin on stage, his performance impressed me and I went through a whole range of emotions which I couldn’t put into words right away. Above all, he had focused his play on the impact of the media on our lives. The play’s sub-heading was in fact, Ces médias qui m’ont appris à parler [These Media Who Taught Me to Speak]. While we were working on the film, I understood that I was most moved by the question of error, of being exposed – him being laid bare as an actor, us too. As we were preparing the film, I realised that I was more affected by the question of error, of being exposed – him, as an actor, ours too. We stripped back and honed in on his body of work only retaining material which concerns failure, discomfort and loneliness. Then we worked in situ in this gigantic apartment. His acting was so impressive; I didn’t have to do much directing. I was able to concentrate on the aesthetic choices, locations, and the composition of the shots, lighting and movement.

The audio interviews that are used appeal to a collective media memory. Gathered together, their anecdotal dimension takes on a more tragic quality. How did you select and edit the audio material?

In the play, there is a mixture of registers – from the language of intellectuals and politicians, to pop culture and YouTube videos – which resonated with me. I had a feeling of absurd injustice. Who has the right to be wrong, to say stupid things? There are those who are hissed and booed, while people in high places lie unscrupulously in prime time. There is a combination of poetry and the emptiness of words that I wanted to preserve. And the question that every “artist” asks himself: do I have the right to make mistakes too, to fail? The tragic dimension also comes from our staging of solitude. There was a melancholy in the passages chosen by Valentin. I wanted to amplify it, particularly through the treatment of the sound, which sometimes adds gravity where one would be tempted to laugh or mock.

The schizophrenic interpretation of the character is offset by fluidity in the camera movements. How did you work with the director of photography, Benoît Guidi?

I’ve worked with Benoît Guidi several times and he has contributed significantly to the aesthetic of the film. I wanted to give the audience an experience within the sequence-shots: like a mental image where the actor and the space are transformed. The lighting effects were also the result of a desire to start from a realistic basis with natural light and to shift to mental images very quickly.

Il faut se tromper takes place in a flat over the course of a day. Why this unity of place and time?

For a long time, I’ve been thinking about working on the playback of words in a film. I think that the unity of body and setting highlights the way language implies a physical posture and a social posture. I hesitated for ages between a studio film and a more narrative film in a flat. But I knew I wanted to have this unity of place and sequence shots to highlight the way in which the simple embodiment of a voice involves a whole series of mimics. As for the unity of time, I thought more about it from everyday to dream than from morning to night.

Interview by Olivier Pierre

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Technical sheet

France / 2022 / Colour / 22’

Original version : french
Subtitles : english
Script : Jean Boiron Lajous, Valentin Dilas
Photography : Benoît Guidi
Editing : Jean Boiron Lajous, Valentin Dilas
Sound : Christine Dancausse
With : Valentin Dilas
Production : Jean Boiron (Les films du gabian).
Filmography : Paroles de bandits, 2019
Plus t’appuies moins j’ai mal, 2018
Terra di nessuno, 2015
La mémoire et la mer, 2012.