THERE were a couple of firsts on the set of French film See You Up There for actor Laurent Lafitte.
Speaking with Community News while he was in Perth this month as part of the French Film Festival, Lafitte said he was able to tackle a character he had not played before.
The film is about two soldiers who survived World War I, one of whom was disfigured during battle with Lafitte playing theatrical villain Captain Henri d’Aulnay-Pradelle.
“(My character) brings the dark humour to the film and Albert Dupontel the director wanted him to be a villain that we would enjoy watching,” he said.
“I haven’t played anyone like him before; he is very theatrical and he loves himself and is very careful about his looks and the image he gives to the others.
“He is very conscious of his villainy and enjoys being the bad guy, I’ve never had to explore that in another character.”
See You Up There also marked the first time he was directed by his co-star.
Dupontel also wrote the script based on the novel The Great Swindle.
“I’ve been directed by actors several times but they were not actually playing in the film,” he said.
“Albert is very intelligent and sensitive and clever so he knows that an actor doesn’t like to be shown what he must do, he was very careful with that.”
Lafitte said the large-scale production required rehearsals before getting on to the set, something he was hesitant to do at first.
“I’ve never worked with a director who wanted to rehearse so much (but) he knew that once on set he would not have the time to really direct the actors,” he said.
“It was such a huge film to make with the technical fields he had to manoeuvre so he knew we had to work before shooting.
“I wasn’t really keen to (rehearse) when he told me he wanted to rehearse but once on set, I thanked him for having done so because it was much easier and faster on set, I really enjoyed it.”
Lafitte reflected on his controversial film Elle (2016), about a successful businesswoman (Isabelle Huppert) who gets caught up in a cat and mouse game with her rapist.
The film earned Huppert her first Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination.
“Working with (director) Paul Verhoeven was a great opportunity for me because I do a lot of comedy work so it was funny for me to be doing this very dark character and threatening,” he said.
“And the film is very powerful because she doesn’t react the way we are expecting her to react as a victim.
“She has her own way of refusing to be a victim in a vey controversial way and I love movies that push the boundaries like that.”
Lafitte said the reaction to the film may be very different if released this year.
“I am very curious to imagine how it would be welcomed today after all the Time’s Up movement and the way women’s speech is freer than before,” he said.
“Some women found the film a bit offensive because it gave the image of a woman enjoying being raped, which is not the case, not in the first attack.
“In the second and maybe the third attack she is starting to find a sadomasochistic pleasure in it, but why not?
“It’s not judgemental, it’s how she reacts, she is a character.”
The French Film Festival is on until April 4.
Go to www.affrenchfilmfestival.org.