Matthias & Maxime

Jean-Michel Blais composed the music for Xavier Dolan’s new film.
We met him at the SACEM meetings in Cannes for
talk to us about his work with the little prodigy of the festival. Interview.

By Jacques Braunstein

Reading time 4 min.

Matthias & Maxime

Trailer

“Xavier Dolan’s film is a sort of return to the origins. It’s a film in Montreal, about Montreal, with his friends…” explains Quebec musician Jean-Michel Blais about Matthias & Maxime, whose music he composed. Dolan, just 30 years old this year, had a little left his native country since Mommy (2014), following It’s Only the End of the World with French actors (Gaspard Ulliel, Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel…) and The Death & Life of John F. Donovan with Anglo-Saxon stars (Kit Harrington, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon…).

It’s improv, and it’s so much improv
it’s not meant to be improv

Here he is back home, with a film much less sophisticated than the two previous ones, which will delight fans of his truthfulness cinema. The story of two friends from straight childhoods, who after a bet kiss… This calls into question all their convictions about their loves, their orientations, their futures – one having to go to Australia (Dolan himself strangely burdened with a spot of wine), the other having chosen a life of a somewhat dull executive (Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas, a Quebec comedian making his film debut).

« I, by extension, became a part of this band, said Blais, delighted. At a stroke of a pedal, I was at Xavier’s. We made this soundtrack together. He called me, he showed me pictures, I started improvising… Or the other way around, I played music on a stage, the actors played on it and Xavier did the editing. We no longer know where the beginning is, where the end is… ».

Jean-Michel Blais knew all Dolan’s films, but did not know him personally. When I received a phone call from him, I did not believe it, me who, three years ago, was not living from my music. I had always wanted to make film music, I couldn’t start better, and I find myself in Cannes!” he adds, by giving a circular look at the pontoon of the Majestic where Canal +’s teams are busy. It is through the big door that the 35-year-old musician – whose three «neo-classical» albums have been particularly noticed, by Time magazine in particular – embraces this new career.

“When I first went to Xavier’s house, he made me listen to the songs he had in mind for the film. But I didn’t listen to them again afterwards… I knew there would be Schubert, big sound when they were in a box… And without my thinking about it, the music in the film uses the same chords as Schubert’s play and this dance piece. » listen to them again afterwards… I knew there would be Schubert, big sound when they were in a box… And without my thinking about it, the music in the film uses the same chords as Schubert’s play and this dance piece. » The musician adapting his playing to “the fragility of his characters as they discover themselves. In small steps, their relationship changes, is improvised and for me it has a relationship with the intimacy of the piano. “He says they had planned to re-record everything in the studio. “But the day before I told myself that I would never find the emotion of the improvisations I had played with Xavier next to me. He waved at me with his hands, you can even hear him whispering on the originals… So I took my courage with both hands and told him: “I’m going to look lazy, but we already have the music we want to recreate. We have more than we think. And we cancelled the session. “To define his music, Blais has a formula that could be a nice way to characterize Xavier Dolan’s cinema: “it’s improv, and it’s so much improvisation that it’s not meant to be improvisation…”

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