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DOUBLE MESSIEURS

France, 1986 (MIFF 1987)

Director: Jean-François Stevenin

Jean-François Stevenin is best known in France as an actor. Double Messieurs, his second film as a director, is a personal, idiosyncratic work, hailed for its evocative presentation of situations and moods, Pascal Marti's flexible camerawork and the effective use of the snowbound setting, Grenoble in winter. Stevenin's screenplay takes two perpetual adolescents, Leo and Francois (Yves Alonso and Stevenin himself) who decide to seek out a friend they haven't seen for 25 years. They take a weekend off from Paris and family, and go on a jaunt to Grenoble. They intend to humiliate him, just like the old days; instead they stumble on his glacial wife, played by Carole Bouquet. The film starts as a thriller, but soon becomes an intimate, sometimes comic, sometimes surreal exploration of human behaviour.

Stevenin acknowledges the difficulties for cast and crew stemming from his double role. He is both demanding and indulgent towards his cast members; he allows them space, he encourages them to contribute dialogue, but he expects a good deal in return. Double Messieurs took a year to edit, and Stevenin pays tribute to editor Yann Dedet for his contribution to the film.

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