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Interview with Lauriane Lagarde, director of Un corps brûlant [A Free Run]
Friday 18 February 2022, by ,
Lina and Inès do not know each other. Yet they have one thing in common: parkour. From roof to roof, from wall to barrier, the two teenagers observe each other from a distance, like, try to get closer. But, because they don’t want to be seen, they are constantly interrupted.
What interested you about the subject of romantic encounters and are you planning on making other films on the same theme?
I was extremely desirous of making a physical film where bodies would be put to the test. This encounter has nothing natural about it. More than the personalities of these two girls, beyond the words, beyond the language that separates them, are their bodies that are attracted to each other, that yearn for each other and are dying to be close. In the end, the whole film works as an image of what we might feel when we « fall » in love. In terms of sensations, I wanted the film to go from one extreme to another. From the cold of ice cubes, the fridge, ice creams to the heat of bodies that sweat, bleed, move around and circle each other. It is as though the bodies express that which these girls cannot say to each other. On the thematic of romantic encounters, I am actually writing a new work of fiction about a woman who refuses to be taken in again by love. And in particular, I am directing at the moment a documentary (Des Amours, produced by the 48° Rugissants production company) about that which fades away and that which remains at the end of a relationship. The film begins with the break-up of a couple and follows each of the ex-lovers in their subsequent life.
How much did the subject of sexual freedom and the dangers menacing that freedom count for this film?
That is all the film talks about. All the characters are in some stage of the discovery of their sexuality. Their bodies are filled with urges, desires, that they find difficult to understand and to control. This is what Lina is going through, even more violently so as the attraction she feels does not correspond to heterosexual norms. As her body expresses itself naturally and powerfully, we get the impression she is fully conscious of what is playing out. Which is not the case. Nowadays, asserting your sexuality seems simple. We live in an era where, luckily, there has been definite progress in the acknowledgement of the multitude of ways of being and loving. But is still a long way to go to reach the point where all sexual orientations will be considered natural. In the meantime, asserting oneself as lesbian, gay or bisexual is still much more than a simple formality. It requires knowledge of oneself and a crazy amount of courage. And the risks you face sometimes weigh heavily on how you act. For this reason also, in the film, obstacles are evoked as images or as sensations (for example, her isolation when she is in her home), as if they were hanging over the heads of the characters.
Why did you want to construct this encounter around a challenge or battle?
More than a challenge, I would call it a mating ritual. Except in this instance, it is not the “males” who are going all out on their mating display in order to seduce the “females”, but the girls who decide their own rules. Flirting becomes a game, mutually consented and freed from all power struggles. I wanted their physical exchanges to be practically a dialogue. As if they were expressing themselves through the movements of their bodies.
From the beginning did you intend it to be parkour or did that come later?
The parkour was there from the beginning. I often watched videos of the traceurs and traceuses who flew over obstacles with suppleness and an ultra-fluid grace. They give the impression that the obstacles are not there. They “erase” them. I wanted to transpose that idea into the film. Except that in this instance the two girls continually jump obstacles to get to each other. They reclaim the surrounding space by tracing their own path to desire. As if, through their movements they are marking out a bigger and bigger domain in which they could freely express themselves. And in order to better demonstrate this mechanism, I gave the space an unreal aspect by ridding it of its usual inhabitants (mostly masculine). Leaving room for these girls to fully express themselves.
Is there a particular short film that has made a strong impression on you?
The first short film by François Ozon, Une robe d’été, made a deep impression on me. When I watched it I remember my body reacting strongly. As if my senses were wide awake. That dose of intense pleasure is something I rarely feel at the cinema. Each character allowed themselves to orgasm without holding back, without jealousy, with a relaxed attitude. But the sexual freedom of the three in the film is captivating to see, the film in its entirety goes further than that. It is always outmaneuvering the reactions we might expect from these characters. The film constantly surprises us by manipulating the stereotypes. What remains with you after watching it is the apparent simplicity, even though its structure is complex, it is a multilayered elaboration with many levels.
What’s your definition of a good film?
I will continue with my previous answer by saying that what makes a good film for me is the way the story is told with a mosaic of tiny details that seem insignificant. As they are collected together these details function like clues, pebbles marking the paths of the characters. Their presence surprises us and we notice they elicit such and such a reaction. They enable us to perceive the fractures and vulnerabilities of the characters, and how they must overcome them. That is the point when emotions can well up and flood into us. And personally, that is what I look for in cinema.