The Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series brought a wide variety of French films to Lincoln Center in New York City. An advantage of the series was having actors, directors and other filmmakers attending to discuss their films.
Julie Delpy (“2 Days in New York”, “Three Colors: White”) was in New York with her latest comedy “Lolo” which she starred in, directed and co-wrote. Before the screening, Delpy said “I like saying dirty things” which she included in her “little French comedy”.
Delpy plays Violette, a Parisian involved with staging fashion shows. She and her friend Ariane (Karin Viard) are on vacation. They talk frankly and amusingly about their sexual relationships. While she speaks of “magic moments”, Violette later gets a fish dropped on her by Jean-Rene (Dany Bon). An attraction does build between Violette and the less sophisticated Jean-Rene, a computer programmer. Delpy and Bon have a good chemistry that makes the scenes of their different characters adjusting to each other engaging.
Jean-Rene joins Violette in Paris. She has a 19-year son Lolo (Vincent Lacoste) who deviously tries to sabotage his mother’s new relationship. As Lolo’s attempts to shame Jean-Rene become more sadistic, the film loses steam, becoming strained and predictable.
After the film, Julie Delpy held a lively discussion, saying she wanted to make a film about a “woman in her forties finding love.”
She described Lolo as an “emperor child”, wanting his mother for himself. She said her own 7-year-old is the opposite of her cinematic son. Delpy said that she likes “dark stuff for comedy”, that when someone’s a sociopath, “It can be funny”. She added that for her it’s “fun to see mistreatment on film, maybe I’m sick.” She likes “sex talk very direct”, laughingly adding “no beating around the bush.”
When an audience member said he found no humor in the son’s disturbed behavior, Delpy responded “I’m sorry, I think mean people are funny. Sometimes I see humor in very dark things.”
Delpy said that it’s not sacred that she always writes for herself as in her previous directorial/writing efforts that began with “Looking for Jimmy” (2002), but “no one else wanted the part” in her latest film. She had worked with Viard and Lacoste and wrote the roles for them in “Lolo”. She wrote the male lead for Dany Bon but was told he was too big a star to be in her film. Bon liked the script and took the part.
She said she “used to play classical music” and likes “pretty lights and a playful orchestra”. Delpy added that she loves the comedies of Blake Edwards (“Victor/Victoria”) and Mel Brooks (“Blazing Saddles”) and these films “inspire me”, and that the “cartoon at the beginning credits is like ‘The Pink Panther’ (of Edwards).”
Delpy said that as a director she has learned to delegate more. She has gotten a bemused reaction when she says “action to myself”. She got Karl Lagerfeld to appear in a fashion sequence in “Lolo” since she’s known him over 20 years.
Delpy was asked if she would collaborate again with Ethan Hawke and director Richard Linklater with whom she made a trilogy of films following the same characters in “Before Sunrise” (1995), “Before Sunset” (2004) and “Before Midnight” (2013). She replied that she had a “great time with those guys, not sure if we want to do it again.”
She said financing is easier in France and is very structured. Her film did not receive funding from the French government which usually does not fund comedies. She said funding in the US is not as stable as with French premium cable channel Canal Plus. Another difference Delpy noted is that here is “no guilt” for the “working mother in France.”