“halway between Chabrol and Shining”
Fabrice Gaubert’s tv-show starring Marina Hands
was rewarded twice at the Serie Mania Festival.
Screenwriter and novelist Anne Berest’s interview.
By Jacques Braunstein
Reading time 3 min.
Rewarded twice during the Serie Mania in Lille on last marsh 30th, tv-show Mytho (Arte) earned the public prize while the main character Marina Hands got the best actress award during the international competition.
A 6 episodes comedy directed aby Fabrice Gobert (The Returned, Lights Out…) in a slightly fantastic suburb, feeling reinforced by Jean-Benoît Dunckel’s (Air) original soundtrack. This unexpected show for the French-German channel displays a subtle surrealistic humor, graceful version of Desperate Houswives. Written by novelist and screenwriter Anne Berest (Les Patriarches, Sagan 1954), we met her during the festival in Lille. Interview.
Serie Mania Festival
How did you come up with the Mytho’s idea ?
For a long time I wanted to tell the story of a mother lying to reunite her family. The idea came before the will to make it a tv-show. Why this idea ? It is about mixing to experiences. My (real) mother’s illness on one side. On the other side, it came from a thought that crossed my mind, while being emotionally hopeless, that if I were sick, my relatives would be more considering. So the idea was there, but for a novel. But when the producer Bruno Nahon (The Churchmen) proposed to work together, I thought the subject was relevant as a tv-show. I then started to write this family’s story, highly personal, intimate, autobiographical. –despite the quirky angle. I think this intimacy touched the director, Fabrice Gobert (The Returned). We worked together to bring life to the Lambert family… with both our imagery –and thanks to Marina Hands, Mathieu Demy and all the others.
Marina hands embodies an unrecognized women who actually enlivens her family.
The show’s starting point is this mother, left alone with the diner she made. We have seen her shop and cook the sauerkraut to please her husband, her children. But when the evening comes, no one is here. Everyone has better to do. She is despondent at the see of her failed dinner, togetherness symbol. I felt this simple situation told a lot about this small society that we call family.
Why did you make it a comedy ?
I don’t know… I wasn’t thinking I should make it a comedy ! It came this way. The first drafts were even more slapstick. That is the way life is, isn’t it ? I come from a family with a heavy past yet we laugh quite often. We are a joyful family. I guess it is part of my legacy : make the reality a laughable, that is what saves us.
The daughter is kind of a tomboy, the son wants to become a woman… Why did you write the children “gender fluid” as we say ?
I am lucky to live in a blended family with many children surrounding me… of any ages. Living with them, spending holidays with them gave me the opportunity to observe this new generation. They are very interesting, cleared of many issues we had at their age. Of course they also have their own issues, captivating ones. I wanted to be truthful with nowadays teenagers, not to project my own youth. But I didn’t want the question of the gender to be a topic in the show…it is simply in it.
We can find in Mytho the suburb world, which matters to the director Fabrice Gobert (The returned), were you familiar with this world ?
Yes. I didn’t actually live in an area we can see in the show but I lived in a residential suburb with a lot of houses close to each other, with a lively neighborhood. I lived closer from Paris than Fabrice but, even though, when we met, we had this that brought us closer : we didn’t grow up in Paris. It felt like a common ground : to be bored, to be dreaming far from the city. Today, we realize we live incredible things in those small towns. For instance, the show opens with a murder because in three house from mine a schoolmate was killed by his mother… Those things strike you while you are young ! My vision of the suburb is neither satiric, neither exotic : it is where I come from.
What were your references while writing Mytho ?
They are many references in the show : mine, Fabrice’s, DOP Patrick Blossier’s, Art director Colombe Raby’s, actor’s, technician’s… it is a lot of references ! It is quite rich to blend our cultures. You know, when you have to create 6 fictional episodes, you have to get your strengths together. Regarding me, my references can be random. From The Shinning twins to Claude Chabrol worlds. For example, Sew, Lies and videotapes, Golden Palm in 1989, impressed me like no other film because my mother toke me to see it when it was released, I was only 10. A scene in the show is directly inspired by Soderberg’s movie –I won’t tell you which on not to spoil it ! But I don’t think about make a reference when I am writing. When I review, I realize where my mind dug. The most inspiring series for Mytho are Nurse Jacky with its saint and diabolical character and My so-called life –I watched it in the 90’s, I had the exact same age as the character. It was a shock !