Submitted by admin on Wed, 04/03/2024 - 15:12
French star Daniel Auteuil (Caché, Jean de Florette, The Well-Digger's Daughter, many more) stars in Farewell, Mr. Haffmannas a talented Jewish jeweler in Nazi-occupied Paris who arranges for his family to flee the city and offers one of his employees (Gilles Lellouche) the opportunity to take over his store until the conflict subsides. When his own escape is thwarted, he has to rely on his employee to protect him. We open the film this Friday at the Royal and Town Center.M. Auteuil recently sat for an interview about Farewell, Mr. Haffmann:WHO IS JOSEPH HAFFMANN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE FILM?He is a man whose sole purpose is to save the lives of himself and his family. He is hunted, in danger, and the whole situation is closing in on him. But I’d say that deep down, his purpose is the same as that of François (Gilles Lellouche): both men are obsessed with their children. The children Haffmann hopes to see again, and the one François hopes to have.HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN THE TWO MEN?It’s a relationship where the power dynamic immediately shifts. It’s what I liked when I first read the script. The deal Mr. Haffmann tries to strike is wild. But they were wild times, and nothing was normal. There was no “normal” behavior. It was the law of survival. War and danger create a context in which you react however you can to the crazy violence around you. When Haffmann comes up from the basement, he “acts crazy.” He can’t take it anymore. Because there is a moment when people who are persecuted want to revolt. Even if it puts their lives on the line. Anyway, that’s how I experienced it… or how I acted it!THE FILM IS SHOT BASICALLY ON ONE SET, AND CENTERS ON THE INTIMACY OF THE THREE MAIN CHARACTERS. WERE YOU AFRAID TO BE IN SUCH CLOSE QUARTERS?Not at all! There are wonderful examples like Claude Miller’s GARDE À VUE (THE INQUISITOR) where Lino Ventura and Michel Serrault face off in a room throughout the entire film. It’s more of a challenge for directors, who need to find more ideas for shots, than it is for actors. And we shot in a studio. When I was young, I preferred shooting on location, but certain films work better in studio. Farewell, Mr. Haffmannis one of them. We are more concentrated on these characters, who are obliged to dig within themselves. And Fred Cavayé hones things down up until the very last minute. He is constantly streamlining his writing. He removes more than he adds. He pares down, cuts to the bone. It’s amazing because it gives the actors more room to let themselves go in front of the camera.HAFFMANN IS NOT AT ALL TALKATIVE. HE ONLY SAYS THE STRICT MINIMUM. DO YOU ENJOY ACTING SILENCES AND PREGNANT STARES?Not particularly. I play the score I’m given. What can I say? I’m alone in a basement, so…! But it’s true I’ve been told that before, especially for Claude Sautet’s A HEART IN WINTER. I often heard: “You don’t say much, but your eyes.” And when I saw the movie, I realized I was speaking all the time. But it’s not what people remembered …SARA GIRAUDEAU REFERS TO YOUR EXTREME CALM ON THE SET. IS THAT ALWAYS THE CASE OR WAS YOUR CHARACTER THAT CALLED FOR IT?Well, I know I’m going to be spending 12 hours doing the same thing over and over, so I try to go about it as serenely as possible! And it’s a pleasure for me to be there. Film shoots are a privilege. They allow me to work in good conditions. I love the atmosphere on sets, love watching the actors and the crew. When you work in cinema, you’re protected from the outside world. But I must say that is calming. But sometimes, actors do become their characters, unconsciously. Haffmann’s discretion, his silent presence, may have rubbed off on me…THIS IS THE FIRST TIME YOU’VE ACTED WITH GILLES LELLOUCHE…Yes, and I accepted the film because I knew who my partners were. It was wonderful to witness Gilles’ enthusiasm, his method, his search, his questioning… He overflows with an energy that I must now try to preserve. Everyone on the set was extremely absorbed, focused. There was a lot of pleasure in doing as we were doing it. That’s already pretty good, right?