This is from the Q & A of the French film Les Combattants, the first feature by Thomas Cailley, premiering at Directors' Fortnight. You can click here to watch the whole conversation.
It was a really amusing and obviously revealing Q & A, you can see a pretty nervous first timer, the director Thomas Cailley, but he's not the only one. If you see the entire Q & A he says that the majority of the professionals working on the film were first timers. Including the leading actor, Kévin Azais. It seems that Adèle Haenel is the big professional here, according to her work.
The first question from the Q & A is by a woman who says: "I have a question, is for the actress of the film...I wanted to know if you're playing a role?"
I laughed. As did everyone.
This actually confirms what I thought from the moment I read the synopsis of the film. Adèle Haenel is perfect for the role. When Thomas Cailley was asked about the casting, he says Adèle Haenel was the first person he had in mind. When they first met she talked to him about a marathon she was preparing for in Germany, where she even slept in the snow... The director also jokes that the film is a documentary about her. But I actually read this in other articles. This is quite fun.
Adéle Haenel is an untrained actress. For her first two film roles, the first when she was twelve and then a few years later, were cast on the street. It seems as if Adèle Haenel has landed in the film universe by chance. But has she? But the poignant question is - Was it destiny? And even better - is she here to stay? I would say definitely yes.
Her work method is really about the director's trust and then I would say pure instinct. She says she never really prepares for the film shooting, for the role, she just shows up on set and see what happens. This is probably why she's done her fair share of roles in quite independent films, it definitely suits her. That's where the instinct comes and relies. And this is also probably part of the reason why when we see her on screen everything feels so raw and powerful. Also because she's the kind of actresses that has a really strong body expression, like Jodie Foster.
The praise for Adèle Haenel for this film is constant. That she brings the originality and spontaneity. Her bigger than life presence. This usually happens with most of the films she's in.
She's been a steady presence in Cannes since a few years ago. Year after year, whether in the main competition, Critics Week or Directors' Fortnight. And most of the time, there's always a praise for her performance, she always brings something more to the film. But somehow, she's always been under radar, or she keeps being a pretty low key french actress. Maybe she'll never be that kind of actress.
She won her very own french Oscar just a couple of months ago. Next Wednesday at Cannes, she'll be present in what is her biggest high profile film participation, the premier of the new Téchiné's film with Catherine Deneuve.
L'Homme Qu'on Aimait Trop.
We're young souls. And I'm here to follow her career, everywhere it takes her (and me) because there's only one Adèle Haenel.