Anaïs Demoustier: “With Les Amours d’Anaïs, the director painted a portrait of me”

Anaïs Demoustier: “With Les Amours d’Anaïs, the director painted a portrait of me”

His energy and playfulness flow happily through this very attractive first feature film, presented at Critics’ Week. Encounter.

In 2019, Anaïs Demoustier camped in Pauline enslaved – the short film by Charline Bourgeois-Taquet presented at Critics’ Week – a young woman obsessed with love, on the verge of a nervous breakdown while waiting for a text from her married lover.

Two years later, here she is again in the title role of Loves of Anaïs, the first feature from the same director who once again won the honors of Critics’ Week. The actress plays a lover as passionate as she is obsessive whose heart races first for a publisher then for his wife. And in this invigorating and playful journey on the map of Tendre, Anaïs Demoustier offers a lively, mischievous composition which gives incredible charm to this story.

Skip forward two more years, and here is The Loves of Anaïs programmed on Arte. to wait until its broadcast, at 8:55 p.m., we are sharing our interview with the actress we met in the summer of 2021.

How did you meet Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet?

Anaïs Demoustier: Three years ago, thanks to my brother Stéphane who produced his short Pauline enslaved. Charline immediately told him that she would like to offer me the title role but that she didn’t dare call me because she didn’t know if I was still filming short films. And my brother who knows me well told him not to hesitate because he was sure I would love it. And he was right!

What specifically appealed to you about his scenario?

I immediately felt close to this character of Pauline of which the Anaïs of the feature film constitutes in some way an extension. But above all, this short and then the long one allowed me to work on things that I had not yet worked on in cinema: a speed, a liveliness, a character that was so physical. And this while exploring this paradoxical contradiction existing in these two young women who think a lot with a great capacity for analysis but find themselves totally overwhelmed by their emotions. Characters who are both hyper cerebral and totally instinctive Anaïs – like Pauline – is a lover in the most violent sense of the word, with a permanent thirst for the absolute. And all this is brilliantly served by the quality and dialogue of Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet. She is a true author with a unique language.

This energy that you speak of is also exhausting for those who encounter it in the film – and also point it out to it – but also for the spectator. How do you play a character who can quickly come across as unbearable?

This was probably the hardest for me here. I obviously wanted to make her sympathetic but in that case, I would have lost the role. I quickly concluded that the best way to be able to embody this Anaïs without judging her was to understand her and her strange neuroses. I think of this scene where she dismisses the issue of abortion almost with a laugh, a reaction which expresses a way of defending herself. Anaïs is one of those people who popularize the drama because they cannot open that door and do not want their interlocutors to delve into these subjects. All this can make her brutal. But I find someone frank beautiful who never calculates (except for lousy calculations) and doesn’t have an ounce of cynicism or irony in them. And I love that she never feels intimidated by her own desire and knows how to express it

When did Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet start talking to you about the feature?

Very quickly after the short, she told me that she was writing a feature film in the same vein. And I had the chance to exchange with her during the writing, in a new place for me, where I encouraged her not to lose the comedy within the love story that she wanted to develop. I wanted her to keep the tornado side of the character and Charline did it superbly by creating a magnificent journey for Anaïs, between the very energetic first moments of the film and these moments where she will find herself overwhelmed by her love at first sight for the character played by Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi who reveals a depth in her, a certain seriousness that she tried to mask…

Is it easy to take a character from a short to a long one, even if they’re not exactly the same?

This is again new work for me. But even more than the correspondences between these two characters, it was the correspondences between the two of them and me that I found crazy. I no longer count the number of sentences they say that I could have spontaneously said. I feel a familiarity with who they are, their energy, their flow of words. This Anaïs is really very close to me through her energy and Charline paints a bit of a portrait of me through her.

What characterizes Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet in your eyes?

His way of shooting which consists of extremely constraining the actors. Everything is very choreographed. There is no room for any improvisation either in the text or in the movements. Everything is under control. I know some comedians hate it. But this job fascinates me precisely because it confronts me with directors whose methods are different each time and in which I will succeed, like here, in finding a lot of freedom.

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