Meeting with the actresses of Débacle: “We had to give strength and determination”

Meeting with the actresses of Débacle: “We had to give strength and determination”

Rosa Marchant and Charlotte De Bruyne respectively played Eva as a child and Eva as an adult. Warning, the interview may contain spoilers.

Debacledirected by the actress Veerle Baetens (seen in particular in Alabama Monroe, Tabula Rasa), is the adaptation of the eponymous bestseller Het Smelt (published in France under the title Debacle) of Lize Spit in 2016. A first film based on a first novel, on the road to success? That's all we want from this nostalgic drama, brought to life by Eva, the main character.

Eva's life is projected at different ages, childhood, halfway with adolescence then adult life eventful by the ghosts of the past. Charlotte De Bruyne And Rosa Marchantthe two interpreters of Eva, gave us an interview.

Debacle: the first shocking film by Veerle Baetens (review)

Premiere: What did you like about the script of Debacle ?

Rosa Marchant (role of Eva as a child): Playing the role of Eva was a great honor. It was my first film role. I am very grateful to Veerle, that she could see this potential in me, to be able to play this role. She gave me this chance and it made me very happy. It was my first audition, it was really new. Veerle taught me everything.

Charlotte De Bruyne (role of adult Eva) : It was Veerle Baetens, the director and co-writer, who called me for the role. I knew the novel very well, which is a bestseller in Belgium, but I had not yet read it. I rushed to read it – I loved the tension in the book and it was undoubtedly the challenge of the film. This inner monologue had to be exorcised. It is often said that the book is better than the film, but here the two can work together. Playing Eva was a great opportunity, it's the first time I've played someone so introverted, with so little text, it's all in the look. In addition to playing Eva, I had to play Rosa (Marchant), I observed her over the weeks, her body language, copied her mannerisms, she is completely different from me. I loved doing that.

What is your view on the drama experienced by Eva?

Rosa Marchant: The most important thing for me during filming is that I was completely and constantly in trust with the crew and the actors. We became friends, we had gotten to know each other long before filming. Veerle organized weekends at the seaside. We had psychologists on set, the drama scene was a choreographed scene.

Charlotte De Bruyne : It was necessary to give strength and determination. For us, Eva is a superhero, we made links with other films, like Kill Bill. She confronts her heavy past, it's a revenge film. There is this vengeful spirit, it was dangerous to show someone who was just a victim. I think that with Eva as an adult we showed what she was capable of, she still took the initiative to return to her village, despite what she experienced as a child.

In a post climate #MeToowe expect feminist revenge when she confronts her tormentors, but is that really what happens?

Charlotte De Bruyne : For me, by barging into the party, Eva is doing something very intrusive, she totally changes the atmosphere of the evening. In my opinion, she humiliated Tim and Laurens. She threw her bloody clothes in the faces of the culprits, she decided to take up arms to confront them with reality. Despite the finality, we wish it would happen differently, we want to give the victims a voice, but it does not always end as we would think.

Veerle Baetens said: “An external silence often hides a spirit that screams to the point of breaking its voice. It's us, the others, who don't hear it. Or maybe, who don't make the effort to listen? This quote evokes the decision made by Laur's motherens (Femke Heijens)in a very specific scene, what do you think?

Charlotte De Bruyne : I get chills when we talk about this scene… which is the strongest and the saddest for me. It is at this moment that society decides to turn its back on Eva. For me, this moment signifies society's inadequacy towards victims. Laurens' mother is a metaphor, she is society at this moment. You see in her eyes that she has to make the decision, choose between her son and Eva (her daughter of the heart).

Rosa Marchant: Yes, this scene is the most terrible for me too. It was also difficult to shoot this scene, because it is undoubtedly the most faithful to the novel, we had to bring the book to life. It's a heartbreaking scene, we cried all day, it was very intense.

You were talking about metaphor: adult Eva drags a block of ice behind her, signifying the weight that the character carries on her shoulders. How did you play with this object?

Charlotte De Bruyne : This ice cube disappears at the end of the film. It melts, it disappears, I don't want to accept that this is the solution. This item symbolizes an end I fear, but it was also a beautiful accessory. This object is a work of art. I remember when this giant block of ice arrived, everyone was impressed, it was truly a magnificent object.

Was there a resemblance casting between actresses to play Eva?

Rosa Marchant: Charlotte was not yet selected, she started casting with the young actors. It was after being chosen that she took someone who looked like me. She had a mood board, it wasn't really big because Veerle had already had a crush on Charlotte, given our resemblance.

Charlotte De Bruyne : Veerle first found Rosa for the character of Eva as a child. It was a challenge for Veerle to find someone who looks like Rosa. I didn't really have a casting call, but rather a rehearsal, to see the different accents, since I don't have the same one as Rosa. Veerle told me he had confidence. I still wanted to show her more, but she told me: “No it’s okay, you got the role.” She chose me, she trusted me. There is a very strong bond between the two of us. It's amazing when a director trusts you and says: “it's going to work“.

Debacle was released in theaters on February 28, 2024.

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