Big Talk: Benoît Jacquot & Charlotte Gainsbourg


IFFR 2021

With close to seventy film roles under her belt, Charlotte Gainsbourg (b. 1971) is without doubt one of the most versatile and impressive actors of her generation. French director and screenwriter Benoît Jacquot (b. 1947) has been building up a deep oeuvre ever since his debut in 1974. Anyone who has seen the film will agree that Jacquot’s casting of Gainsbourg – with whom he previously collaborated on Trois coeurs (2014) – for the title role in Suzanna Andler is not only a stroke of genius, but also inevitable.

Gainsbourg manages to be vulnerable and unyielding at the same time as Andler, a millionaire’s wife who is at a crossroads in her life – a combination of qualities this actress and singer is able to express like no other. For many years, Gainsbourg has gone her own way, appearing in films by Lars von Trier (Antichrist, Melancholia), Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep) and Todd Haynes (I’m Not There). For his latest film, Jacquot – one of the most productive and best-loved directors in France – returns to the source. He started out as director’s assistant to writer and filmmaker Marguerite Duras (1914-1996), with whom he became good friends. Suzanna Andler is based on one of her plays.

This Big Talk, moderated by Serge Toubiana (author, president of UniFrance and former director of la Cinémathèque française), touches on Jacquot’s relationship with Duras, as well as how he directs actors, Gainsbourg’s choices, her view of acting and the collaboration between these two giants of French cinema.