by Marie-Pauline Mollaret
by Marie-Pauline Mollaret
Stranger - a film where subdued worry meets an astounding thirst for life - tells the rebirth of a woman who has lost touch with herself and who gradually reconnects with her emotions as comes across a stranger. Sad, icy times are portrayed by empty, soulless places, in which two characters make up their own world and find a common language. Music is the wonderful framework of this romantic tale, which makes masterful use of space, a testament to the power of cinema, of music and desire to create magic in our lives.
Interview with Jehnny Beth
"It all started with music. I first worked in a studio with Johnny Hostile and Malvina Meinier, then, upon meeting Agathe Rousselle as we were auditioning for the same parts, I thought about writing a short film. I asked her to write it with me and novelist Alexandra Dezzi. We first looked into doubles, then the story rooted itself in the symbol of heartbeat and its connection to music.
I wanted to make something original, to find a creative way to combine music and film. It wasn’t about making a film that would “serve” the music, or the other way around, but rather two artworks - each in their own right - that would coalesce around the same ideas: coming back to oneself, reconnecting with one’s emotions so as not to suffocate from a dull, uneventful life. Music is almost the protagonist of the film, it is the precious essence that the characters share. It is music that saves these characters.
It was important for me to talk about our need to connect as human beings, in a world plagued with wars, separations, power, it is important to tell people that we need one another, that art and poetry are there to help us find this connection.
I met Iris Chassaigne a few months before shooting and I fell head over heels. Her world would obviously fit perfectly with this project. I had loved her short film Swan in the Center, which was also about absence, boredom and desire. I just loved her ideas on how to direct Stranger; her ideas were powerful, spot-on; and we really enjoyed working together.”
Interview with Iris Chassaigne
“Upon reading the script of Stranger, I immediately found resonance with the issues I tackle in my films, especially the story of characters who don’t fit in the world around them.
Jehnny had very strong visual ideas, which blended perfectly with what I want to do as a director. We discussed the importance of working with the body, the movements through which we were going to convey A’s angst, and her rebirth through J’s dance.
The hybrid nature and potential for fantasy of the project also prompted me to bring a strange quality through my choice of images, skewed frames or sequence shots, in order to put the characters in this otherworldly place, somewhere that is not quite realistic, and would be very specific to that film.”