“A universe between Chabrol and Shining”
Serie. Meeting in Séries Mania with Anne Berest,
Mytho’s scriptwriter, the upcoming comedy on Arte.
By Jacques Braunstein
Reading time 3 min.
“A universe between Chabrol and Shining”
Rewarded twice at Lille’s Séries Mania Festival last March 30th, the show Mytho (Arte) won the Public Prize and its leading actress Marina Hands received the award for best actress in the international competition.
A comedy with 6 episodes of 45 minutes directed by Fabrice Gobert (The Returned, Lights Out…) in which we find again this slightly fantastic atmosphere of residential area strenghtened by the original music of Jean-Benoît Dunckel (Air). This show with an unexpected tone on the French-German channel, displays a cunningly surrealistic humor, like a poetic and elegant version of Desperate Housewives. It was written by the writer and scriptwriter Anne Berest (Les Patriarches, Sagan 54) we had the chance to meet during the festival in Lille. Interview.
at Séries Mania
How the idea of the show Mytho was born?
For a long time I’ve wanted to tell the story of a mother who is going to lie in order to gather her family together. The idea was existing before I intended to make a show out of it. Why this idea? Combining two experiences. The (real) sickness of my mother on one hand. On the other, the thought that crossed my mind one day, during a moment of emotional distress, that if I was ever to be sick, my relatives would be paying more attention. Then this topic was in my mind, but much more like a novel subject. But when the producer Bruno Nahon (Ainsi soit-il) offered me to work with him, I thought that the subject fitted the shape of the show. So I started to write the story of this family, an extremely personal, intimate and autobiographical story- despite its crazy dimension. And I think this sincerity moved the director, Fabrice Gobert (The Returned). Together we worked to give life to the Lambert’s family… around our two imaginary worlds- and thanks to Marina Hands, Mathieu Demy… and all the others.
Marina Hands embodies a woman who doesn’t receive enough attention whereas she’s the cornerstone of the family…
The image which is the starting point of the show is this mother sitting alone during the dinner she cooked. We watched her doing the food shopping, she wanted to please her husband, her children, we watched her cooking a delicious sauerkraut. But no one showed up for dinner that night. her husband and children have another activities. Then she’s annoyed, almost desperate, because this dinner is this symbol of the moment “all together”- and she fails. It seems to me that this really simple situation said something about this sort of little society which is family.
Why did you want to make a comedy out of it?
I don’t know… It didn’t tell myself, well, I’m going to make a comedy out of it! It came like that. The first versions were even more burlesque. But because life, our lives, are kind of burlesque, aren’t they? I come from a family with a heavy and dark past, and yet we tend to laugh about it very much. We are a happy family. I think it’s part of my family legacy: turning reality into a burst of laughter, because that’s what saves us.
The girl is the family is a little manly, the son wants to become a woman… Why did you imagine « gender fluid » children as we say today?
I have the chance to live in a reconstituted family, and I’m surrounded by children… of all ages! Living with them, going on holidays with them, it was an opportunity to observe this new generation between 15 and 25 yo. It’s an interesting generation, who got rid of a lot of problems we had at their age. And who asks itself other issues, that are fascinating. So I wanted to find a way to be right about today teenagers, and not to stick my own youth memories on Mytho‘s characters. But I didn’t want “gender” to be a topic of the show… it goes through it.
We see in Mytho the residential area atmosphere which is dear to the director Fabrice Gobert (The Returned),were you familiar with this world of housing estates?
Yes. I didn’t live in a residential area like the one in the show, but in a housing estate in the southern suburb- with a lot of little houses side by side, with a neighbourhood life… I lived in a suburb closer to Paris that Fabrice’s, but still, when we met each other, we had this thing in common: we didn’t grow up in Paris. It was a sort of common garden: being bored, dreaming about the big city. And today, taking as step back, we realize we lived amazing things in these little towns. For example, the show begins with a murder, because three houses away from where I lived when I was 15, one of my schoolmates was murdered by his mother… it’s quite shocking when you’re 15! Then my look over this suburb is neither satirical nor exotic: it’s where I come from.
What were your references when you wrote Mytho?
In the show, there are a lot of references: mine, Fabrice’s, chief operator Patrick Blossier’s, the artistic director Colombe Raby’s, the actors’, the technical team’s… It makes a lot of references! And it’s pretty rich, this mix of all our cultures. You know, when you have 6 fiction episodes to make, you have to combine everyone’s strengthes. As far as I’m concerned, regarding references, a few scenes of Mytho do a split, from Shining’s twins to the universe of Claude Chabrol’s films. For example, Sex, Lies and Videotape, Golden Palm at Cannes in 1989 is one of the films that impressed me the most because my mother took me to watch it when it cames out whereas I was only 10. There’s a scene in the show which is a reference to Soderbergh’s film- I won’t tell which one not to spoil! But when I wrote it, I didn’t tell myself consciously, “Well, I’m going to take my inspiration from this film”. It’s when I read myself again that I see where I drew my inspiration from. I would say that the two shows that inspired me the most in order to write Mytho were Nurse Jacky with its character both saint and diabolical and Angela 15 ans – that I watched on Jimmy‘s channel in the middle of the 90’s. I had the exact same age than the character. A shock!
- Matthieu demy
- Marina Hands