Mais vous êtes fous: A family affair
Film. Focusing on a couple destroyed by drug addcition
Audrey Diwan’s first movie is an electrifying intimate thriller.
Interview with the directress.
By Jacques Braunstein
Reading time 5 min.
Audrey Diwan’s first feature depicts the life of a couple, Céline Salette and Pio Marmaï, accused of drugging their children. A daunting story in a context of cocaïne addiction. Mais vous êtes fous is based on a true story. The directress recalls : « This story came to me. I met up with a friend in a park. She told me one of her friends, who was not feeling well, was going to join us. But that she probably would not want to talk about her problems. Then my friend had to go and I found myself alone with this women I did not know. Then, I understood that she had children that she could not see anymore. She had a normal life until her daughter had a seizure, and she discovered that she was an addict. Everybody in their family was contaminated. Nobody knew why. »
A simple and minimalist movie,
“bigger than life” fictions
What was even more surprising, was that Audrey Diwan had seen a column in the papers, just a few days earlier, stating « A Parisian couple drug their children ». And this story started budding in her head. « I was impressed by her shock, but also by her drive to understand why her husband fell victim to drugs. Implicitly, I could feel that she loved him. I asked how she was doing, even if our paths never met again. And when the case was closed, I wanted to write about this powerful and novelistic story. I asked if I could see her again and she explained that we could only make this movie if we also worked with her ex-husband. »
An intimate suspens
Mais vous êtes fous is a simple and minimal movie, contrasting with Audrey Diwan’s usual « bigger than life » scripts, such as Mafiosa — a tv show starring Éric Rochan — or La French and HhHH — directed by Cédric Jimenez.
Deep and psychological, it doesn’t match either the image one could have of this rushing young woman. Consecutively a trendy journalist (Technikart, Glamour, Stylist), the co-writer of the international best-seller How to be a Parisian, scriptwriter and now directress…
« It is a question of maturity. Today, I know my own taste better : I prefer genre cinema and arthouse cinema. I wanted to blend a bit of both, to disseminate some suspens into the intimate stories that I usually like…Just like Kore-Eda or Ken Loach do. Movies based on a social tale, that develop a kind of sincerity without dismissing any suspens. I, Daniel Blake, for instance, is punctuated by the fact that the main character’s heart might stop. »
The movie’s uniqueness also lies in the social context in which it takes place. It is not about party life, show-business or advertising, but about a middle class couple that we could easily imagine living in the bourgeois side of Paris. He is a prothesist and she is an executive in a boring company. It conforms to what studies on addiction noticed nowadays. Mais vous êtes fous unveils itself as a intimate thriller focusing on the issue of trust. « Where do you put your trust, does it withstand or not…At first, Pio Marmaï’s character is always scared of being discovered. Afterwards, it is more about Céline Salette’s characters overanalyzing everything. When he goes to the bathroom, she even thinks water running is a way for him to hide something. We spent a lot of time crafting lines that could hide a double-meaning… »
Threeway with drugs
The main strength of the movie is its ambivalence : both tenuous and generous, dense and bare…The staging is very diverse but never bragging or putting in the forefront its own virtuosity. « Along with Marcia Romano, my co-scriptwriter, we wrote a lot. It took us time to strip it down, and not be too literal. For instance, we did not show the detox and relapses. There already are great films about this, such as Oslo August 31st. When we tried to put together too many subjects, we were losing sight of the actual movie. I wanted to turn drug into a lover, and to reinvent a love triangle around it. It created ups and downs, enough twists.
Our last question revolves around the title. We understand how it matches the story, but we are still left wondering why BennyB is thrown into the mix. Audrey Diwan promotes transparency : « I wanted to find the right rap track for the character. Reminiscing Arnaud Desplechin’s Rois et Reines. But my knowledge of rap is very limited so I asked Gilles Lellouche — who is a good friend of mine— to send me five songs. I didn’t find the first four tracks very interesting. But when I listened to « Mais vous êtes fous » by Benny B, I thought that it was a great idea to bring to light a generational song, to dig in our memories, to be a bit kitsch…two weeks later, I told Gilles and he answered me “Are you kidding, I sent it to you as a joke” »
- Pio Marmai
- Audrey Diwan
- Céline Sallette