Mandibules press conference: Quentin Dupieux and cast at the Venice Film Festival
When simple-minded friends Jean-Gab and Manu find a giant fly trapped in the boot of a car, they decide to train it in the hope of making a lot of money. While attempting to make progress with the little monster, they embark on a crazy journey in Southern France. Mandibules premiered at the Venice Film Festival and it was presented by the director and cast with a press conference.
Quite a crazy film, how did you come up with the story?
Quentin Dupieux: It all started from the idea of finding a fly in the back of the car. Well it started from the idea of my films are spontaneous, I don’t over analyse. The whole process is very natural. I don’t spend the time analysing myself.
How did you build this character and the alternation of her voice?
Adèle Exarchopoulos: I didn’t have any idea of creating something. We had the screenplay; everything was already written. It was a very psychotic experience. I was very afraid. I really did want to be part of this film; I’ve seen Quentin’s films and I’m excited by what he does. It was very nice to work in a creative, childish and demanding environment. I didn’t really think too much about my role because everything had already been written. The more logical parts were written. There’s this representation of the poo of the flies and it represents people who don’t listen to us when we talk. We increased the level of the voice in order not to change the tone too much. We found some tricks to make it absurd and evil, but also as sincere as possible.
Roméo, how was moving into this world? You had fun? Was it all written or did you improv?
Roméo Elvis: It was my first film for me, I don’t know about the others, it was very fun working together. I don’t have any other experience in the world of cinema so I can’t compare it. Everything was great.
Coralie Russier: I had already shot a film with Quentin and it was a fantastic experience. It was great to find him again! Luckily I can say. He’s a very demanding director, and it was really nice, enjoying the shooting, he drags you along so I let myself be dragged along. As an actress it was great to work with my partners.
Does it start from dialogues or the visuals?
QD: It changes a lot depending on the project. It can be a set idea, it can be a visual idea. There is some dialogue. I’ve been affected by the flies and in ten years I decided to develop something around these flies running around my head. Sometimes I’m inspired by reality, sometimes by dreams. I can spend three to four years on the same screenplay.
How was working with Dominique (the fly)?
David Marsais: How was the fly? It was this green thing…it wasn’t very nice. The co-director animated it. She managed to move it. It was easy to communicate with it. She had the sensitivity needed to move it. I found it very funny in fact.
Grégoire Ludig: The idea was to give life to this artificial rubber. That’s what we did with Dominique, we had to imagine how it would move. It’s very nice to work with all these fixed animals that have to be moved.
DM: We saw these bits on the car, in the trunk of a car, and it made us inspired and think of the fly.
QD: You were disgusted sometimes.
DM: Yes…but he said I had to be disgusted with this animal and that’s what we did.
About the finale, there’s this finale which is almost romantic, a bromance, and the fly comes back and breaks it. Does the fly represent the only realistic element in the entire story?
QD: The fly comes back and that’s a positive element because it breaks the romanticism, this romantic relationship, and once they are drunk everything starts all over. So the fly is a note of hope. So tomorrow if there are beasts coming up we can hope to use them to make money.
Did you manage to keep a straight face or did you have to do scenes a lot of times because you needed to laugh? Any anecdotes? The bike, the unicorn, the fly?
AE: Well they were laughing more than I was. Because my role was to modulate and when I was talking it didn’t sound very sincere so two or three times we had a burst of laughs. My relationship with life is the most important part. I recognise myself in the fly, it’s in my heart, and that is the connection. The fly also told the truth.
Is there a connection with Cronenberg’s The Fly? Does it turn evil towards the dog?
QD: I’m not sure there’s a connection between this movie and Cronenberg’s. In that film it was a human being, this one is just a fly. To me the fly is good all the way through. It has to eat a dog for food, but it’s not a bad thing, it’s what animals do. To me it’s a nice puppy.
Why the fly? Not a mosquito?
QD: Why are you wearing this T-shirt? You don’t know? It’s almost the same. It was just a random idea. I cannot explain why it’s not a mosquito.
About friendship: what is friendship and can it be that strong in reality? And how did you discover the “toro” gesture?
DM: Our personal history because we had been friends for fourteen years. We are childhood friends, we often worked together, we met at high school. That’s why Quentin insisted for us to do the film together. When we work together we enjoy ourselves, we anticipate the reactions of the characters. It’s good, if you look at the result it really has…we’ve been working together for 15 years, we had our discussions. It happens in friendship. If we do have some discussions, we find a solution.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina/La Biennale