Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Olivier Assayas talks about Kristen in Vogue Paris (August 2014 issue)

Olivier Assayas parle de Kristen dans Vogue Paris (Numéro d'août 2014)

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English translation by itsoktobeyou.org


"The apparition of the Bella Swan from Twilight in the credits of the new Olivier Assayas movie, facing Juliette Binoche, intrigued. At the end of the Cannes screening, the verdict was unanimous: Kristen Stewart steals the limelight. Hollywood's beloved child, whose private life makes salivate tabloids, flourishes, all shades, in a little gem of European cinema. For Vogue, Olivier Assayas explores his meeting with a young actress with a supernatural and universal aura. Down the road.. a mystery, "the real Kristens"...
By Olivier Assayas

I just did a movie with her, but I can't say that I know Kristen Stewart, this is probably due to her nature, and mine, and that also refers, probably to deeper affinities, more intimate, a bit unformulable, those that attracted me to her, those who attracted her to me. Other people are more familiar with her career, for me it's a longer precess, blurred and probably coming from her appearance in a movie by Sean Penn, photographed by Eric Gautier and adapted from a text by Jon Krabauer; it was the silhouette of a (very) young girl that I had kept in mind, beyond the real qualities of Into the Wild.

Hard then to imagine that one day our paths would cross even if, in movies as in life, I believe in nothing as much as short circuits. This one owes everything to Kristen Stewart and boldness and spirit of rebellion that define her. Is that who makes of her a great actress? That is not the question, it's possible but it's not essential: It's above all what makes her alive, what makes her fills the screen with an intensity, a violence too, that annihilates everything that can be lukewarm, fake, to play near the zone that she radiates.

This is even more disturbing because she's not coming from some outskirts or marginality, she comes from Los Angeles, the heart of the industry, not its aristocracy, rather its middle-class a priori the most conformist. And yet she's determined by the rupture, a freedom of movement almost wild, that owes nothing to any predictable cue, whether moral or esthetic. Not narrow-minded, she does not owe anyone an explanation. Bella Swan in Twilight, a silhouette in On the Road, or carrying the movie Snow White and the Huntsman by herself, she is fully here.. each time, recoilless, without insinuations, without judgment, in this evidence that only belongs to her and makes ​​her pass through the movies by diagonals inspired by an animal intuition. She has an alter ego like all the actresses, but maybe this is more radical in her. There are her privacy, protected by a rough shell, constituted in the best kept secret, the one that hides in the light, as she grew up on set. And then there's this other that she becomes as soon as the camera is 'on', at which she lends this power, this bare truth we can't know how it was acquired, where it comes from and the exact nature of consciousness she has of that.

Charles Gillibert, who produced Sils Maria, was with Nathanaël Karmitz the producer of On the Road, it's with him that I met Kristen for the first time. A night at the Silencio, not the most conducive place to get to know someone. We saw each other again much later, after agreeing on Skype and deciding to work together: it was in even more abstract circumstances, a Chanel fashion show at the Grand Palais, the models evolved in ruins inspired by Enki Bilal drawings, the least we can say is that she was in representation. We attended it together, trying as much as we could to have a semblance of natural conversation. The next day we had lunch in a hotel restaurant - a fetish fan has stolen the keys of my bike, thinking they were hers. The essential was in the implicit; and the explicit really wanted to avoid damaging what was not said. She was glad, I think, to have the opportunity to venture into a territory she had probably fantasized about but was not familiar with, the European auteur cinema. And then to be confronted with an actress whose freedom of tone and movement had inspired her, Juliette Binoche. Myself, I was feeling a strange imbalance, as if she knew better than me why we were there. As if everything was clearer to her, actually that's her strength, everything is crystal clear for her, she kept that ability of children to decrypt the world with laser. For me nothing was clear, besides it's never clear unless I'm on set, not facing the actors but the characters they portray, at midway between them and me. I think it's only then that I began to understand how to assemble the pieces. I don't say that so far I don't trust my intuition, it's quite the opposite, I trust it to the borders of irresponsibility, however I know that in movies what counts are not the isolated elements but their chemistry. I figured that Kristen had enough in her to stimulate and even push Juliette, I didn't know if she would know as well how to be pushed by Juliette, if she could put herself in danger, visit new spaces a cinema she hasn't explored yet, could open to her. There's something mysterious about the relationship we built - unconsciously - with presences that haunt the cinema. The Sils Maria filming was well advanced and the silhouette of the Twilight star started to disappear, reduced to a valuable supernatural aura, when I remembered seeing a long time ago Kristen in Panic Room, not the best movie of one of today's great directors, David Fincher - she was the daughter of Jodie Foster. I had forgotten. Instead I was thinking of The Runaways. A not very good biopic about the band created by Kim Fowley, from which comes Joan Jett. Kristen portrayed the latter - for whom I always had a weakness, since Cherry Bomb, actually (Am I the only one to have been interested in her when she played in an underrated Paul Schrader's movie, Light of Day?) She gave it life with such truth, coming also from a time that she did not know, and that I found, striking. Many white pebbles marking my way not to Kristen, but to that part of herself that try to find yourself by giving life to some of the areas, of today's cinema, the most vulnerable and at the same time least visible.

I was always admiring the courage of actresses. And especially when they go in search of adventure and confront themselves with the unknown. Juliette Binoche who goes to meet Abbas Kiarostami, Isabelle Huppert following Brillante Mendoza to the Philippines deep into the jungle. Or Maggie Cheung when she came to Paris to shoot, away from her Hong Kong marks, the film of a French author whose notoriety was still confidential, myself. I often thought of them when I watched Kristen on the set of Sils Maria, I didn't make it easier for her, our sets were situated in some of the most isolated regions of Europe, Leipzig, then the Engadine and finally South Tyrol. She was alone most of the time - the tabloids reported abundantly on her recent separation - just an assistant for company, although smiling and devoted. It's not just about the geographical isolation - hard to go back to LA for the weekend, however - more the situation of vulnerability in which she was. It goes without saying that the logistics of our location could not give her the comfort she was used to - in mountains, we can even say that it was frugal. I am not saying that she usually had a cocoon and that she would have missed it, I think she hates the whole idea of ​​cocoon. But that her work habits and concentration were determined by cues she had not here. She don't speak French that, despite our efforts, remained the second language on set, and was immersed in an environment strange and unfamiliar: we never got a rehearsal - no upstream table read either - and even the shots were moving, never stabilized, opened to improvisation, to a questioning of the strongest situations.

This is probably due to the personality of Juliette Binoche, the respect she inspired in Kristen; she saw in her a model. Not a model as an actress, more a model of independence, of sovereignty, vis-a-vis laws of cinema. Juliette had built her career by transgressing, exposing herself without reserve, without restraint, venturing into territories she knew nothing about, risking getting lost. Deep down Kristen knew, by instinct, that freedom is the only thing that counts and what she was looking for in Juliette was the key. I feared she would not let herself be shake, it was the opposite, she came because she wanted to shake herself up, she wanted to put herself in danger. Because beyond her own virtuosity - the control of herself and all the nuances of her acting that she learned from living her life in movies, since childhood - she knew there was another dimension existed, of self-abnegation, where spontaneity, the language of the unconscious, take precedence. Sometimes actors are driven by cinephilia, by the smoke and mirrors of an artistic or intellectual prestige associated with independent cinema - and I don't mean that in a negative way only, these alliances can sometimes be mutually beneficial - but there is not an ounce of calculation in Kristen. What drives her, rather is courage, determination and the secret of a young actress who discovers the richness and complexity of her art, who feels magnetized by areas where she will be able to experience them, live them: despite the status acquired in the industry, the unconventional media attention to which she is subjected as much as she benefits, that would put her, trapped her to be more exact, in a binding framework, reducer, and with a suffocating result.

I was talking about the secret, I think the mystery of what Kristen may have of indecipherable, and the unformulated certainties that I had perceived during our first meeting, come from exactly that: at what she's in the process of becoming, herself, clandestinely, by byways. Applying this unwritten law that governs Hollywood - to be free, but to never tell a truth that does not follow the established rules of the industry. Step by step, she learns by herself how to be a singular, thoughtful person, a figure entirely different in American cinema, she is inventing a place for herself - it's not, it's no longer a matter of proving anything, but to accomplish herself in the only way worthwhile, in existence and in art, both inseparable. Basically to do everything that was so far forbidden."
L'article est en français & en assez bonne qualité pour le lire. :)

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