Exclusive: Julie Delpy Talks ‘Lolo’ & Cinema Journey

 

Now playing in select theaters, Lolo centers on Violette (Julie Delpy), a 40-year-old woman who has carved out a successful career in the fashion industry and is also a loving mother to her self-absorbed son Lolo (Vincent Lacoste).

When computer software creator Jean-René (an engaging Dany Boon), enters Violette’s life, a bond immediately forms between the lovers. Unfortunately, Lolo has designs to ruin their budding union, wreaking tons of havoc in the process.

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I talked to a refreshingly candid Delpy, whose prodigious work includes collaborations with directors Krzysztof Kieslowski (White) and Richard Linkater (the Before Sunrise trilogy), and she talked about Lolo, her continuing love of cinema, and why shooting in Los Angeles for independent filmmakers is a nearly impossible task.

This movie is billed as a romantic comedy, but it also has a much darker edge to it. Can you talk about combining different tones to your film?

In a way, the film started as a concept that was a mix of things. It was talking about falling in love in your forties and talking a little bit about how you’re much more kind in your forties. And not just kind – you don’t want bulls**t but at the same time you want (something) real. So she’s finding a man who, actually if he was a player – he would be out. Because she’s had that and she’s done with that. She actually falls for a man who is the opposite of a player and who has many differences with her. But in your forties you’re much more understanding of that. It doesn’t matter if you’re not exactly the same person with the same taste in everything (laughs). You know what I mean?

And it doesn’t matter if a man dresses well. You’ve been to a place where you don’t give a s**t about a lot of things. What matters is that person is a good person and that you connect with them on a level that is not superficial. I think she sees that in Jean-René and she wants to be with him. And same for him. She’s full of flaws, yet he likes her. She’s kind and loving, and she cares about him.

Then I wanted the conflict, and it could have been a friend or a co-worker. But what worse could it be than your own flesh and blood being the conflicting element? You could think Lolo would be a film about two people who are too different to be together – no it’s not that. Because if you’re in your forties, that’s not the problem, usually. It’s not that anymore. The problem is who in her life has been making her life a living hell? Her child happens to be a sociopath and a narcissist.

I also wanted to talk about narcissists, because I don’t often see them in movies. You see psychopaths. You see people raping and killing people and doing horrible things, but you don’t see that kind of manipulative, destructive behavior – and I’m actually obsessed with it! I’ve only met one sociopath/narcissist in my life but since then I’ve been obsessed with it, because nothing is scarier to me (laughs)! I’d rather have anything in my life than that.

Movies about people falling in love in their mid-forties is a rare occurrence. Do you have a theory on why these movies just aren’t being made?

Well I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers on why they’re not being made. I know the film in found its audience in France because people were interested in seeing a movie about people in their forties having a relationship. Even young people liked the film. It wasn’t like only women in their forties seeing the film. It was everybody – it was even kids. Believe it or not in France we let kids see that stuff (laughs). I mean not kids – but 12 or 13-year-olds, teenagers have no problem with the language. Teenagers don’t mind swear words, it doesn’t traumatize them anymore (laughs)!

I don’t know why. Maybe they’re being safe. They want to make sure they reach the population that goes to movies, even though, weirdly enough, the population that goes to movies outside of big action films is actually more people in their thirties and forties than people in their twenties. I don’t know what’s in their minds. Maybe they’re scared. Maybe they don’t want to show women in their forties because they want to be with women in their twenties. They don’t want to be reminded that they do exist and they do have a sexuality. It’s a complex mix of things – mostly it’s a business thinking thing where they only think, “oh we want to see young women or young men.” But I don’t have an answer for you on that stuff – I am not sure why there are not more movies, because it would seem like a good demographic to (cater) to.

All of your directing ventures are infused with a love of cinema. Have you always been passionate about movies and does that directly feed your work?

You actually pointed out something that is true to me. I love movies. People take movies as a business, as a way to make money – a lot of people see it as an industry. I see it as an art form. I can’t help it. That’s why I put other movies in my movies because I have such respect for film and I have a very broad (taste) in movies. For example, in Lolo there is La Jetée which is Chris Marker’s film (note – that movie is playing during an art exhibition sequence) and also Children of the Damned which is basically (a theme) in the film – you don’t know what you have at home. Your own flesh and blood is actually an alien from outer space (laughs)!

My love of film goes from very artful films like La Jetée to Children of the Damned which is a ‘60s horror film. So I love films in a very broad kind of way. It goes from Star Wars to Woody Allen, to John Cassavetes to Ingmar Bergman to Andrei Tarkovsky. My love of movies is why I am making movies. The truth is I have a lot more dramatic pieces but so far people have given me money to do comedy. I have all these dramas that are waiting to be made (laughs)!

I read an interview where you expressed a desire to shoot in Los Angeles. Will that be the location of your next film?

I am trying to shoot next summer and it’s not going to be in Los Angeles because it’s too hard to make movies in Los Angeles. I don’t know why, but there is something between financing which is not really there for independent film. It’s a combination of things – the California tax cuts is never helping independent film. Never. They want as many people hired as possible so they go for TV shows or huge movies.

If you’re a mother and you have your child in L.A., you’ll have to go out of town and abandon your child basically and go and work somewhere else. So it’s very complicated and on top of it there’s no real financing outside of the studios – it’s very hard to find financing in a film in America much more than in Europe. It’s very expensive because the unions are very hardcore. The combination of no finance and super hardcore unions – we have to have unions but maybe they could be nicer for independent films! I know they’re nice, but they have to be nicer. Even for myself, I’m with the DGA (Directors Guild America) and Writer’s Guild – I wish they would understand either I make my film or I don’t, you know? And a film not being made is not a good thing.Financing in the U.S. is very hard. It’s very hard to find reliable financiers and every filmmaker will tell you that. Hopefully it’s going to change with Netflix and Amazon financing films. Hopefully it could become more like the European system with Canal Plus and all that stuff, you know? I hope it will.

Thank you Julie for your time and take care!

Thank you. Bye-bye!

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