|Interview with Brigette Baudin
(Le Figaro) October 9, 2002
Vincent Perez is a happy man. He is filming the last scenes of Fanfan la tulipe (premiering on April 9) in Rodez, Angers and the Studios d'Epinay under the direction of Gerard Krawcyzk. He plays the title role, immortalized formerly by Gerard Philipe, and pursues his dream as a child while carrying out inventive cascades. All this is done with joy with his dexterity in fencing, one of his preferred sports. He does not forget, however, another very beautiful adventure - the debut of Peau d'ange, his first feature film as director and co-written by his wife Karine Sylla and Jerome Tonnerre.
"I wanted to evoke topics which are particularly close to my heart: the mourning of innocence, the chance of meetings and one's destiny," explains Vincent Perez. "Gregoire is a fallen angel who has broken his wings. His mother has died and he has fled. He meets Angele in a bar. She is 17 years old. At the hotel for travellers, she makes him love as one clings to life. She gives her body and heart with a quasi-mystical enthusiasm. They then share an extraordinary moment of purity, of total communion. They do not know yet that this night will mark them forever. All the characters in the film will cross one another. Their common point is love like a driving force."
Vincent Perez and Karine Sylla spent two years writing the script.
"It is a singular film," says Vincent Perez in a soft voice. "It is created from our flesh. It resembles us. We nourished it through discussions before writing it on paper. Karine and I initially imagined the background of the characters. We then allowed them to invent the story by ricocheting off each other. It became obvious. What one sees on the screen is the immersed part of the iceberg."
Perez took as a starting point his own life in order to build his characters.
"Like Gregoire, I had a possessive mother. I was not comfortable with myself. At fifteen years old, I left my parents to try out my wings. At seventeen I started out on the road. I initially went to a photography school in Lausanne. I then spent ten months in Geneva. It is there that I began wanting to become an actor. Nobody around me believed in me. They made fun of this sudden vocation. I then went to Paris to take courses at the Academy, and it all began."
"The character of Angele was invented by Karine Silla. Half senegalaise, she gave me this very African fatalistic side, this grace to accept your destiny with philosophy and serenity. I feel near to Angele by her frankness and naivety of country. I grew up in an isolated village in the canton of Freiburg. Like Angele, I was pure and full of illusions. Unfortuantely, I quickly mourned my innocence."
To carry out this small intimate film, Vincent Perez surrounded himself with his close family of actors. Virginie Sylla, Karine's sister, produced the film. Karine offered her luminous beauty in playing Laure, the understanding wife of Gregoire and the loving daughter of Laurent Terzieff. Magalie Woch, Dominique Blanc, Olivier Gourmet, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Jean-Philippe Ecoffey punctuate the film with their presence. As for Guillaume Depardieu and Morgane More, they each bring their mysterious, singular and poetic universe.