Passionate about the author, we thought we would no longer be so moved. But Mektoub, My Love, a hedonistic and technically intense proposition, proves to us that cinema still exists under Kechiche’s camera.
At the Mostra, Mektoub, My lovewill hold the attention of a French critic who says he is disappointed by a weak selection. Fortunately,Mektoub,destiny in Arabic, is there. Faced with the tales that areThree BillboardsandShape of Water, theCanto Unohas Libération write: “All this was before the arrival of the film, which was able to raise a notch above the measure of the debate and the cinematographic requirement, until then quite low“.
On the lungomare Guglielmo Marconi, the mystery tinged with polemics, which precedes the great works of Kechiche, begins. The press doesn’t know if the editing presented will be final, we still don’t know if the film has indeed become two films, we also don’t know if the break with France Télé, announced at Cannes, has any effect on the production… The mystery is cleared up a little with the arrival in theatres, on March 21, of the 2h58 ofMektoub, My Love.
Abdellatif Kechiche was said to have been crucified by the polemics that followed one of the greatest French films of the decade,La Vie d’Adèle. That’s not the case. As if saved by the brilliance of his art, the industry has partially forgiven Kechiche the pain of childbirth.
For Mektoub, My Love, he will finally enjoy a half-tone freedom supported at arm’s length by Pathé and the director’s own funds. Kechiche will go so far as to sell his Palme d’Or to finish a movie that would have ruined him.
After this very long shoot, the director would have the material to make two films – hence theCanto Unothat signs the title. Abdellatif Kechiche promises in an interview of the press kit : “What will be the second part of Mektoub, My Love is already filmed and largely edited. Thus, in the absence of Adèle Exarchopoulos, the Frenchman’s Antoine Doinel will be Shaïn Boumédine, whom Kechiche warns that he wants to film until he is 45.
Amin, the main character of the feature film seems to be to Kechiche what Doinel was to Truffaut. The filmmaker says of his interpreter: “I thought of Frédéric Moreau of L’Éducation sentimentale, of Lucien of Illusions perdues,conceding, further on,I wanted to give this story an autobiographical dimension”
Romantic, solar, but also more docile than Exarchopoulos in front of the camera, Boumédine radiates. His implacable smile is always equivocal, like that of those hilarious soldiers before their death when the gas condemns them to die in a fit of laughter. This excerpt from a Russian film cutting the film in half gives all its metaphorical power to the smiling, indescribable man, revealing, if need be, the evidence of his importance in the eyes of the filmmaker.
Amin is not the Kechiche of Téchiné inThe Innocents,fantasized for his anger,despite the similarities. Rather, it seems to be the realization of the director’s ideal, looking at the themes dear to the filmmaker. Thus, Amin is in turn surrounded by the vitality of his loved ones – Delinda Kechiche, sister of, appears on the screen -, imbued with concupiscence, then bathed in the indefiniteness of the existing. Three movements that form the character Amin (and by extension, the cinema of Kechiche) as forbidden as it is desired.
Sweeping away all perspectives of class confrontation, but also of narrative pursuit,Mektoub, My Love,makes its own the project of showing what is, for no reason of its own, without necessity other than the challenge of representing reality.
“I wanted to find a lost form of joy”
In the summer of 1994, Amin is reunited with his friends and relatives for a summer. As an aspiring screenwriter, he seems to divide his time between admiring the vitality of the bodies around him and a darker silence that brings him back to his role as a visionary, a filmmaker in the making. Going from girl to girl, the young man sets no rules to his game and his days are stretched out under the sole injunction of pleasure. Solitary in the multitude, Amin is surrounded by her cousin Tony, a compulsive mythomaniac and cheerful fake, her radiant mother, her uncles, and her pulpy childhood friend Ophelia, an inaccessible object of ever-renewed desire.
In short, it is neither confrontation (L’Esquive), nor the need to tell (La Graine et le mulet) that guides Kechiche, but the seizure of an invisible youthful, sensual and loving. The director seems to be emphasizing this desire in this way: “I wanted to rediscover a form of lost joy, to be immediately in that freedom, that of the bodies, the light, the music, the movements, those of the characters and those of the frame, without necessarily wanting to hook the spectator to a narrative. »
As such, motifs, which we will soon call kechichian, give the film a manifesto dimension: sweaty buttocks, dripping pasta dishes, butt-high scenes and fiery, if grotesque, fucking. But beyond the Kechiche of our habits, there appears a completion of his cinema: as if haunted by the question of the insignificant, which representation gives birth to as an art object, the author devotes himself to it completely. He is looking for the tone and the form so that almostsays nothing.
The passion for capturing light, which will require the testing of many cameras and lenses made for the occasion, seems to be the logical consequence. This attention to the sun, which is sometimes dull and sometimes revealing of beauty, led the filming to shoot the same scene in Sète, the location of the film, and then in Spain, without breaking the magic.
A few days before the press screening ofMektoub My Love,of the editors-frameworkers, who met rather by chance, confided a few anecdotes about the director that Paris likes to talk about so much. They said that the film required more than 22 editors whose time would have been taken up by the repetitive task of erasing the 18 (sic) cameras still on the set. The enchanting anecdote: Kechiche placed the insignificant under the fire of 18 optics.
Tone and form to say almostnothing to say
The ballet is visible on the screen as every movement of the lenses follows the actors dancing, playing, laughing – producing life. Bathed in music, intradiegetic for popular music, extradiegetic for classical music the editing does not respect the musical rhythms but the rhythms of the hips, the steps, and sometimes the landscape. But first the body, always the body.
“I realize that this goose exists, and in the reflection of this existence mine takes on an unprecedented acuteness. I exist and this is where the difficulties begin. Before it was quieter“, wrote François Bégaudeau in his novelLa Blessure, la vraiequi alibrement inspiréMektoub, My Love.
This passage evokes that of the birth of two lambs, filmed by the filmmaker, photographed by his character. Amin will wait for hours, camera in hand, just like the director who, with his actor, captures life at the same time, in the same place.