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The Blue Room

La Chambre Bleue

A film by Mathieu Amalric

Starring Mathieu Amalric, Léa Drucker, Stéphanie Cleau, Laurent Poitrenaux

- "Seriously, Julien, if I were suddenly free, could you free yourself too?"

- "Say again?"
A man and a woman, secretly in love, alone in a room. They desire each other, want each other, even bite each other. In the afterglow, they share a few sweet nothings.
The man at least seems to believe they were nothing.
Now under investigation by the police and the courts, Julien fails to find the words.
"Life is different when you live it and when you go back over it after."
What happened? What is he accused of?...

Release date

Available in
DVD

DVD

Bonus

• Interview with Mathieu Amaric and Grégoire Hetzel for Cinézik
• The guests of Olivier Father: Mathieu Amalric
• Interview with Mathieu Amalric and John Simenon, directed by Pascale Deschamps for France 2

Language:

French


Subtitles:

English, Portuguese and German

Disc features:

119 min | 4x3 Full Frame | Format 1.33: 1 | Color | Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital | GENERAL AUDIENCE

Discs:

1

Cast

Mathieu AMALRIC - Julien Gahyde

Léa DRUCKER - Delphine Gahyde
Stéphanie CLÉAU - Esther Despierre
Laurent POITRENAUX - The examining magistrate
Serge BOZON
BLUTCH

Crew

Directed by Mathieu AMALRIC

Photography: Christophe BEAUCARNE
Sound: Olivier MAUVEZIN, Séverin FAVRIAU, Stéphane THIÉBAUT
Editing: François GEDIGIER
Script: Stéphanie CLÉAU et Mathieu AMALRIC
Based on the novel « The Blue Room » by Georges SIMENON
Music: Grégoire HETZEL
Set design: Christophe OFFRET
Wardrobe: Dorothée GUIRAUD
Executive producer: John SIMENON
Produced by Paulo BRANCO


A co-production ALFAMA FILMS PRODUCTION, FILM(S), ARTE France Cinéma
With the participation of CENTRE NATIONAL DU CINÉMA ET DE L’IMAGE ANIMÉE, de CANAL+, CINE+ and ARTE France
In association with COFINOVA 10
In partnership with CNC
With the help of Bureau d’accueil des tournages des Pays de la Loire
This film was made with the colaboration of GEORGES SIMENON LIMITED

Georges Simenon

Georges Simenon was born in Liege in 1903. To this day, he is still the most read Belgium writer. If the tremendous success of his police stories cast a shadow on the rest of his work, one must not forget that Simenon also wrote tales, short stories, articles, and reports.


Simenon left school when he was fifteen and started writing back pages for the Gazette de Liège. His first novel Au pont des arches was published in 1920. Two years later, Simenon left Liege for Paris where he published short stories and articles in various newspapers. His most famous character, Maigret, first appeared in 1930 and Simenon started working with Renoir on movies adaptations the very next year. While he wrote not less than 193 novels, the man also spent a large part of his life travelling around the world. He even lived in the US and in Québec for a while. His last novel, Maigret and Mr Charles was published in 1972. After that, even if he was celebrated everywhere, Simenon started living a much more quiet life and concentrated on the writing of his memoirs. He died in Lausanne in 1989.

Mathieu Amalric

Mathieu Amalric, born the 25th of October 1965, lives in Paris. Discovers Cinema thanks to Otar Losseliani in 1984. Has worked as assistant-director; stage manager, assistant-editor or sutler for Louis Malle, Danièle Dubroux, Peter Handke, Alain Tanner, J.C.Monteiro or Romain Goupil while making short films. In 1991, he makes the acquaintance of Arnaud Desplechin at the Angers Premier Plans Film Festival, who invents him as an actor. Since then, he does both.


Director:


The Blue Room – 2013
Next to Last (1963) (CM) - 2013
Sfar (drawings) (TV documentary) - 2011
L’illusion comique (TV) - 2010
On Tour - 2010
La chose publique (TV) - 2003
Wimbledon Stage - 2001
Mange ta soupe - 1997
8bis (CM) - 1994
Staring at the Ceiling (CM) - 1992
Sans Rires (CM) - 1990
Marre de café (CM) - 1984


Actor (Selective filmography):


The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson - 2014
The Venus in Fur by Roman Polanski - 2013
Love is the Perfect Crime by Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu - 2014
Jimmy Picard by Arnaud Desplechin - 2013
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet by Alain Resnais - 2012
Cosmopolis by David Cronenberg - 2012
Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi - 2011
Wild Grass by Alain Resnais - 2009
Les Derniers Jours du Monde by Arnaud and Jean Marie Larrieu -2009
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Julian Schnabel - 2008
Mesrine: Public Enemy by Jean-François Richet - 2008
Quantum of Solace by Marc Forster - 2008
On War by Bertrand Bonello - 2008
A Christmas Tale by Arnaud Desplechin - 2007
A Secret by Claude Miller - 2007
The Very Big Appartment by Pascal Thomas - 2006
Actresses by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi - 2006
Munich by Steven Spielberg - 2005
Kings and Queens by Arnaud Desplechin - 2004
A Man, a Real One by Arnaud and Jean Marie Larrieu - 2003
The False Servant by Benoît Jacquot - 1999
Late August, Early September by Olivier Assayas - 1998
Alice et Martin by André Téchiné - 1998
Genealogies of a Crime by Raúl Ruiz - 1996
Diary of a Seducer by Danièle Dubroux - 1995
Comment je me suis disputé…(ma vie sexuelle) by Arnaud Desplechin - 1996
Les favoris de la lune by Otar Iosseliani - 1984

Léa Drucker

Léa Drucker se forme à la Rue Blanche et entame sa carrière de comédienne au théâtre en interprétant des pièces classiques (Le Misanthrope) et contemporaines (Plaidoyer pour un boxeur). Elle débute au cinéma dans La Thune de Philippe Galland et on peut la voir dans Rai de Thomas Gilou, Assassins de Mathieu Kassovitz ou encore Chaos de Coline Serreau.


En 1995, elle participe aux TALENTS CANNES sous la direction de Cédric Klapisch. Léa Drucker tient le premier rôle dans Papillons de nuit de John R. Pepper, tiré de la pièce Danny et la grande bleue qu’elle avait créée au théâtre, et enchaîne à nouveau avec Filles perdues, cheveux gras de Claude Duty et Dans ma peau de Marina De Van.  

Elle se consacre ensuite aux comédies avec Bienvenue au gîte dans lequel elle retrouve le réalisateur Claude Duty, avant d’apparaître dans Narco de Gilles Lellouche, aux côtés de Guillaume Canet et dans Akoibon d’Edouard Baer. Léa retrouve ensuite des rôles plus dramatiques avec Dans tes rêves de Denis Thybaud puis Virgil, où elle partage l’affiche avec Jalil Lespert. D’autres films sont l’occasion pour elle de faire un pont entre comédie et drame comme Tel père, telle fille adapté de Virginie Despentes et L’homme de sa vie de Zabou Breitman. Par la suite, Léa Drucker figure au générique de films inspirés de faits réels comme Les Brigades du Tigre se situant dans le Paris de 1907 ou encore le biopic Coluche, l’histoire d’un mec, où elle incarne la femme du célèbre humoriste, interprété par François-Xavier Demaison. 

 

En 2009, elle est à l’affiche de Cyprien en compagnie d’Elie Semoun avant de devenir la femme de Christophe Alévêque le temps de Pièce montée, puis celle de Pierre-François Martin-Laval dans Les Meilleurs amis du monde. L’année suivante, Léa Drucker rejoint le casting de Pauline et François, en compagnie de Laura Smet et Yannick Renier.  


En 2012, elle fut à l’affiche de La vérité si je mens 3, de Thomas Gilou, de Je me suis fait tout petit aux côtés de Vanessa Paradis et Denis Menochet, film de Cécilia Rouaud, et sur scène au Festival de Figeac dans la pièce Demain il fera jour, mise en scène par Michel Fau. En 2013, Léa était dans « A la Française » mise en scène par Edouard Baer, et au théâtre de l’Œuvre dans « Demain il fera jour », mise en scène par Michel Fau. Côté Cinéma, on l’a vu notamment dans Je suis supporter du Standard de Riton Liebman et aussi Le grand méchant loup de Nicolas Charlet et Bruno Lavaine.

Filmographie sélective:

La Chambre bleue de Mathieu Amalric - 2014
Avant que de tout perdre (court-métrage) de Xavier Legrand - 2013
Je suis supporter du Standard de Riton Liebman - 2013
Le Grand Méchant Loup de Nicolas & Bruno- 2013
Je me suis fait tout petit de Cécilia Rouaud - 2012
La Vérité si je mens ! 3 de Thomas Gilou - 2012
Pauline et François de Renaud Fely - 2010
Les Meilleurs Amis du monde de Julien Rambaldi - 2010
Pièce montée de Denys Granier-Deferre – 2010
Cyprien de David Charhon - 2009
Le Bruit des gens autour de Diastème - 2008
Coluche, l’histoire d’un mec d’Antoine de Caunes - 2008
Tel père telle fille d’Olivier de Plas - 2007
Les Brigades du Tigre de Jérôme Cornuau - 2006
L’Homme de sa vie de Zabou Breitman – 2006
Virgil de Mabrouk el Mechri - 2005
Akoibon d’Édouard Baer - 2005
Dans tes rêves de Denis Thybaud – 2005
Narco de Tristan Aurouet et Gilles Lellouche - 2004

Stéphanie Cléau

Après des études à l’école du paysage de Versailles et un DEA de géographie, Stéphanie Cléau rencontre, lors de sa maîtrise de théâtre à Paris III, le metteur en scène Jean-François Peyret et devient son assistante (Des chimères en automne, Les variations Darwin). Puis elle travaille avec d’autres metteurs en scène : Cyril Teste (Flux), Julien Lacroix (Excédent de poids, Amorphe), Robert Cantarella (Classiques en temps de crise), Christophe Fiat (Laurent Sauvage n’est pas une walkyrie et L’indestructible Madame Richard Wagner), Gilles Gaston-Dreyfus et Nicolas Boukhrief (Mon ami Louis).


Elle collabore avec Nicolas Bigards comme adaptatrice : textes de Barthes (Barthes le questionneur), Breton (Nadja), Dos Passos (Trilogie USA), Lobo Antunes (Fado Alexandrino, Traité des Passions de l’âme), James Ellroy (American Tabloid).


Stéphanie accompagne au jeu les réalisateurs, Mathieu Amalric et Noémie Lvovsky, acteurs dans leur propre film (Tournée et Camille redouble). Elle filme et met en ligne un journal de bord-vidéo des répétitions du spectacle Ex Vivo/ In Vitro de Jean-François Peyret.


Le moral des ménages a été créé au 104 à Paris, en janvier 2014, et sera repris en octobre au théâtre de la Bastille.

Laurent Poitrenaux

Laurent Poitrenaux has done most of his studies at the school Théâtre en actes, directed by Lucien Marchal.

For theatre, his actor career led him to work with different directors, such as Christian Schciaretti, Thierry Bedart, Éric Vigner, Yves Beaunesne, Didier Galas, Daniel Janneteau with whom he played Iphigénie, and who he will soon get back to in a project adapted from The Iliad in the next biennale de la danse in Lyon 2014.


With François Berreur, he has created - among other things - Ébauche d’un Portrait at the Théâtre Ouvert, which won the Prix du Syndicat de la Critique award.


During the Avignon Festival, in 2011 and 2012, he has created Jan Karski and La Mouette with Arthur Nauzyciel.

For many years, he has regularly worked with Ludovic Lagarde on several adaptations of texts by Olivier Cadiot, such as Le Colonel des Zouaves, Fairy Queen and more recently Le Mage en Été, created at the Avignon Festival in 2010. Recently he also acted, always with Ludovic Lagarde, une Trilogie Büchner presented at the Théâtre de la Ville and Lear is in Town created at the festival of Avignon 2013. And he will soon playThe Miser by Molière under his own direction.


Most recently, he participated in the creation of Philippe Minyana’s last play, directed by Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Une Femme at the Théâtre de la Colline.


For Cinema, he has worked with Claude Mouriéras, Santosh Alnoy, Christine Dory, Patrick Mille, Gilles Bourdos, Christian Vincent, Sophie Filliéres and more recently with Agnès Jaoui in Au Bout du Conte, Isabelle Czajka in D’Amour et d’Eau Fraîche and La Vie Domestique, and with Mathieu Amalric in The Blue Room.

Mathieu Amalric

Interview with Mathieu Amalric

Is it the heaviness, or the slowness inherent in your adaptation project of The Red and the Black by Stendhal which precipitated the launching of The Blue Room?

No, it’s really just to meet Paulo Branco in the street during the shooting of Roman Polanski’s film. Paulo, he is like a soothsayer, he felt I would need centuries for Stendhal. It is deeply moving when someone tells you « Do something, shoot! Don’t you want to do something in three weeks ? » I searched, and there it was, we all have a book by Simenon that we found and read some day in the country house of we-no-longer-know-who. I don’t even know where this book comes from, who I stole it from. It is a book that I had already used for On Tour. In the scenario, we had call the final scene « the blue room », and there it was: a man and a woman. What does finally remain in life, apart from two bodies attracted to each other?
Very quickly, I said to myself: in four weeks, this, The Blue Room, is something I can do. It turned out that the rights to the novel were free, which surprised me a lot. There are so many people who wanted to bring it to the big screen: Maurice Pialat went very far into the adaptation, with Jacques Fieschi. Catherine Deneuve was supposed to do it with André Téchiné. Depardieu asked Chabrol to think about it. It is even said that the Dardenne brothers...

It’ surprising that The blue room should follow On Tour. One could imagine that The Blue Room is a way to turn your back on On Tour to do the opposite of an almost Dionysian film, which advocated letting go and movement.

I haven’t thought about that at all. It was rather a novel that haunted me for a long time, and written by Simenon, a guy who writes at full speed. Thereby inviting me to film quickly myself.
 What also attracts me is the alloy of hot and cold, and what can drive men crazy: an illegible woman! “I mistook her for a cold woman, a haughty woman, a statue.” We are here facing the abyss of sexuality and attraction, which is unspeakable. What is fascinating with Simenon is that everyone forces him to put it into words.
When he wrote this novel in 1963, in Epalinges in Switzerland, Simenon was in a phase of permanent self-flagellation, such as “Women are witches, I shouldn’t have done it.” It is a novel of punishment regarding sexuality – or regarding his own exuberant sexuality. And with Stephanie Cléau - who adapted the novel with me -–we tried to erase it as we could.
I drew up a list of enemy films, films I had to knowingly discard, whatever their value. The Devil is a Woman by Josef von Sternberg for example: I did not want Esther to be a vamp. I wanted her to be just an unreadable woman, a priori without seduction weapons. For other reasons, Garde à Vue by Claude Miller was also an enemy film, as regards the interrogatories and the convocation of flash backs.
Also, there was the simple pleasure of the whodunit, who killed who? Who is dead? With this structure going backward.


Precisely, this complex narrative structure, like a mosaic, does not seem to help making a film in a short time, particularly at the stage of editing.

At the stage of the screenplay, written in two columns, we already wanted the sound and image to make war on each other, which leads to a particular narrative arrangement. Therefore, I managed to have the most time possible for editing. The schedule permitted it, since we shot in two parts, in July and in November, with the ability to start editing in the meantime.
 Beyond that, we really had to work upstream, to insist on the preparation. With a real, full criminal record, updated with the help of forensic scientists, compared to what could be done in 1963.
I knew it would be a short film, B movies type, in the spirit of Jacques Tourneur’s films produced by RKO - including a film entitled Nightfall. Angel Face by Otto Preminger was also a flagship.


At what point did the choice of the 1/33 format step in? - A format that Americans called the classic ratio, which was a bit obsolete before Gus Van Sant with Elephant and Wes Anderson with The Grand Budapest Hotel updated it.

It came very early, in the presages of the conception. In The Blue Room we are dealing with lonesome and held up characters. I knew that there would be no camera movements to bind, to join the protagonists together. Even in the love scenes, where we focus on reminiscences rather than on openly sensual things, it is not sensuality, nor caress. And therefore, it does not allow virtuosity. The use of Panoramic is not suitable when it is that frozen.

It is obvious at the beginning of the film, where blood, sweat, semen, are like impeded  by large fixed shots, almost inserts, which pictorially evoke vanities or still lifes, which will suck up sensuality.

As in the first sentence of the novel: the moment induces afterward decomposition.


Not everyone uses it for this purpose, but here, the 1/33 is intended as a format that isolates, that traps?

With Christophe Beaucarne, the Director of Photography, we asked ourselves, after having done some tests: whether to use Widescreen or 1 /33. Very quickly, the latter format imposed itself. Christophe thought that it washed his eye. We live in a time where everything is elongated; we need only to see the size of the postcards we sell now. Therefore, we chose the opposite view. And the sensuality of the Cinemascope did not seem to fit this relationship.
 We decided to focus on still shots, but without religion. One could see it as a joke but sincerely the aesthetic is not very far from the one of Derrick, as simple as that. No harmony, rather jarring. No ostentatious staging, just enough to follow a story, to the first degree.


We indeed feel a rejection of the doxa that accompanies the fixed shots. Often, we associate fixed-shots and duration, with the risk of complacency sometimes. Here, the stills are particularly short, sharp as a blade or a sash announcing the fatal outcome.

On the contrary, the first kiss - at fall in the forest, is accompanied by a camera movement and treated in post production to signify that we are in the wrong register, and that they shouldn’t have done it.
In addition to this sequence, the idea was always to tap the same nail, to insist on this thing one cannot name, a non-shareable miracle, out of life, out of everything, which is the mystery of attraction between two bodies, which only belongs to two people. We tried to make this attraction to somehow gangrene the character of the judge.
What also touches me a lot with Simenon, is that we are all alike, no one is safe, and I think it’s very honest of him.


The story has a very steady tempo, particularly with regards to the revelations. As we peel an onion, to borrow a metaphor from Simenon. However, doubts remain: Who killed? Nothing is certain, even if it is understood that Julien is primarily a willing victim. Was it clearer in the novel?

Much less. In the novel - which once again really puts self-flagellation forward - he is indeed a willing victim. We tried to remove that as much as possible.
I wanted this permanent pleasure of doubt, first of all on him, then on the fact it’s possible that she is not guilty either. With Simenon, there is often the idea that lovers would be innocent.
Concerning the role of the mother, I insisted a bit, I even re-did a shot in the pharmacy. Editing, we had been too subtle on the mother, and it was hard to understand what goes through Julien when he listens to this “red-haired woman.”


Did you already know, while writing it with Stéphanie Cléau, that the roles of Esther and Julien would be for you both?

Stéphanie is an adapter for the theater, she is not an actress at all, she is even the opposite of an actress –to have her picture taken is already torture for her. And that interested me. This woman, we do not know who she is, she embodies the threat of the unknown. Intrepreting Julien myself, it was interesting for my official wife to also be an official actress. If the lover also had a recognizable face it would induce, as always, a rivalry between two actresses, which I did not want.
And there this the game with the couple: we play lovers while we’ve been living together for nine years; it has to do with the unspeakable once again.


On several occasions, the music reminds me of Georges Delerue, including the score he created for The Woman Next Door. And it is at that time that I came to realize the obvious relationship between the two films.

Of course, I immediately thought of The Woman Next Door. I also knew that Truffaut loved Simenon, including The Blue Room that he knew very well. After having seen The Woman Next Door again with Stephanie, it appeared to us as essential to remove the “punishment” side, dear to Simenon. It is on that level that The Woman Next Door was a guide.
To get back to the music, at first I did not see the need for it. And then, thanks to The Woman Next Door, thanks to Hitchcock then Preminger, appeared the idea oflyricism. One day, Stephanie put a disc of Ravel, the Prelude to the Night from Rhapsodie espagnole and everything was there. The music therefore came from Ravel, relayed by Bernard Hermann. We started editing the film with Ravel and Dimitri Tiomkin: lyricism and anguish. I needed warmth, and at that point I thought of Grégoire Hetzel, who had already made the music of Wimbledon stage and who is not afraid to go there. There was room for the music to take charge of this aspiration, for the lovers, to go there together.


To summon Bernard Hermann is not innocent. We talked about Truffaut, and then Hitchcock: “to shoot love scenes like murder scenes”. There is also this rather astonishing sequence, the one of the ladder and the glass table where you confront the notion of suspense.

There were these words Esther sends, including the notorious “your turn”. How to get someone to understand that it also means “your turn to kill”?
In the novel, there is exactly this dialogue, this scene between the two spouses. It happens at the table, he has been drinking, he gets angry, and that’s all. I was looking for something, I did not know how to do it. And then came the story of the seasons, Christmas decorations, and there I found it. With the help of Grégoire’s music, a surging anxiety.


You mentioned Hitchcock, Tourneur, Preminger. Other marks appear: Chabrol of course (who adapted Simenon), and by extension, Fritz Lang’s American period, the one of Beyond a reasonable doubt.

Yes, Lang, indeed, especially in the sequence of the trial. Chabrol, I had a feeling I did not even need to worry about it, it would necessarily be there - the bourgeois drama, the passion, the provincial town. But without Chabrol’s causticity, absent from Simenon’s writing, a writer of great tenderness.
The difficulty of the trial was to come to the point where the viewer does not tell himself he will attend a resolution, to project him onto something else. And there is Stendhal, The Red and the Black, which came back and helped me enormously - this is also why the character is called Julien, like Sorel. Simenon was also crazy about Stendhal. There is a clear link between the treatment of the trial in The Red and The Black and the absence of Tony / Julien during the trial of The Blue Room. Not to be in the hope of a turn of events, but to end up upward, in a novelistic and lyrical style. I wanted the lovers to be able to talk through the blue tapestry. By chance, the tapestry of the court, with this pattern of bees, allowed it. We tried the romantic challenge: make it or break it. We thought we could go that far, that the film could accept it


Interview conducted in Paris, 8th of April 2014

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