Left-wing French director goes for thrills at Berlin fest
French director Robert Guediguian, best known for his socially conscious films, offered a rare revenge thriller in competition
BERLIN, Feb 14, 2008 - French director Robert Guediguian, best known
for his socially conscious films, offered a rare revenge thriller in
competition Wednesday at the Berlin Film Festival.
While still set, like nearly all his previous projects, in Marseille and
starring the same three actors with whom he has enjoyed a career-long
collaboration, "Lady Jane" marks a distinct genre switch.
The protagonists are three friends -- Muriel, Francois and Rene -- who grew
up together on the streets of Marseille and once operated as a successful gang
The film sees them reunited after many years, brought back together by the
kidnapping of the woman's son. The role of Muriel is played by Ariane
Ascaride, Guediguian's off-screen partner of nearly 30 years.
That event leads them along a path of revenge and finally forces then to
confront some ghosts in their shared past.
Guediguian, 55, said his decision to make a thriller, rather than stick
with his normal social realist portraits of working class life in Marseille,
had been partly thrust upon him by feelings of political frustration.
"I always make films that reflect my feelings at the time, my personal and
political considerations," he said.
"Right now I feel desperate. Capitalism is in the ascendancy and the desire
to change the world and the structure of wealth ownership, has disappeared."
Therefore he turned to the thriller genre because he "didn't have anything
else to say."
It was Guediguian's second crack at the Berlinale, having screened "The
Last Mitterand" -- his portrait of former French president Francois Mitterand
-- in competition in 2005.
"Lady Jane" was warmly received at a press screening, but Guediguian said
he would not sit through the gala premiere Wednesday evening, preferring to
leave after the red carpet ceremony.
"During a screening, you're always thinking the worst," he explained. "If
someone coughs, you say to yourself 'he's bored'. It's constant suffering."