The Vincent

          May 1992                                                                            





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It looks like if he’s always playing military characters. After La Neige et le Feu, where he was one of the France liberation army soldiers, he is now the handsome officer making Catherine Deneuve tremble. But Vincent does not want to be the eternal "young lover." With the help of Indochine director Regis Wargnier, he is presenting his first short film.

His hair half-long, kept backwards as a poet, Vincent seems very balanced: "I try to be as open as possible and to accept the world of directors as if it is my first journey each time." That’s exacly what seduced him in accepting the Indochine script. "The story is wonderful and reading it has been a great pleasure." Thanks to Catherine Deneuve, of course, but also because it was the chance to make a long trip. "I love traveling and I love Vietnam and Malaysia where we worked for six months. And especially Vietnam, a country out of the world - villages with no electricity where revolutionary slogans wake up people at dawn inviting them to work with enthousiasm. And this bay with a thousand islands, where I spent the night alone, writing and dreaming on the beach, while two vietnamese soldiers protected me from possible attacks from pirates."  

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"This famous Ha Long Bay is linked in my mind to the magical memory of the first day of shooting. We had to walk for a kilometer in the rice-fields for the shot where Linh Dan (the young vietnamese actress playing the adopted daughter of Catherine Deneuve) and I were going offshore under a hot sun. We walked this distance dressed in our costumes, hand in hand, without speaking. Then we layed down in this fragile boat while the technicians stayed on another boat a distance from us. I was alone driving the sampan, Linh Dan sleeping close to me. I could see the boat with the camera far away, tiny. I was alone. I wanted to shout from happiness and I should have done it. It was wonderful like living in a legend."

Vincent Perez fell in love with Vietnam like young French officers did in the thirties. But he swears that he did not give in and smoke opium like the film star Catherine Deneuve does in the movie, or like some French colonists did. And Perez is not so different from his Indochine hero: "I also like discovering and traveling. I feel at my best in trains and planes. My character chose the Navy in order to discover the world." To those who think that this character would have done better in staying in his home region of Britanny, Vincent answers that he does not agree. "One must go on, always on, looking for absoluteness."

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To him, every film is just a limited time in his life as an actor. But when the work for a movie lasts six months or one year, it leaves an imprint on the rest of his life. "Being an actor allows me to receive a lot, but I also need to leave a more personal print behind by sharing my emotions. Directing, writing, and also painting give me this possibility."

At age 27, he co-directed his first short film L'echange with Regis Wargnier starring his Indochine co-star Dominique Blanc. "Regis pushed me to do this movie. In Vevey, Switzerland, I attended a photography school and also worked on stage with Patrice Chereau for three years. I had co-directed some shows, like Woyzeck by Buchner, for example. I love directing actors. Even as a teen-ager, I was a ‘little director’ with my friends."

The story of  L’échange takes place outside a train station where two people, a polish immigrant and a young actress, enter two telephone booths and begin conversing. He looks pretty happy; she looks pretty depressed. Step by step, their feelings will exchange. It's a sober painting, poetical and touching, of the universal proverb that nothing is fixed with everything moving forward and returning.

People in my generation learned quite fast not to need anyone; to live alone at the end. The only way to get in touch with others and get away from our solitude is to have one passion for something." Vincent Perez has this passion: he’s preparing a feature film with the soundtrack of Mahler’s 4th Symphony. However, he says nothing more about it for the moment. "I work very precisely with history because I think in French movies people don’t care enough about scripts."

[Written by Frederic Marc]

[With sincere thanks to Cinzia Masina for her French translation]

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