Mélanie Laurent, director of Breathe, interview by Juan Barquin
FFCC member Juan Barquin spoke to filmmaker Mélanie Laurent, about her second feature film, Respire (Breathe). His interview covers adapting Anne-Sophie Brasme’s novel, working with her talented young leads, and finding her eye as a filmmaker.
Practically everyone in the world knows actress Mélanie Laurent at this point, either for her performance alongside Ewan McGregor in Beginners, her jaw-dropping work in Inglourious Basterds, or any of the other roles she’s played. Few may know, however, that she’s also a filmmaker with two features now under her belt. After debuting at the Cannes Film Festival — and being a candidate for the Queer Palm there — her second film Respire, translated to Breathe, opens in the U.S. this month.
The film, which Laurent adapted from Anne-Sophie Brasme’s novel of the same name, follows two teenage girls: the timid Charlie and the charismatic, manipulative Sarah who spark up a friendship, full of passion and genuine love, before allowing it to descend into something fractured and unfamiliar. We’ll refrain from spoiling any of the fun that comes from watching the feature, as it’s a wild ride featuring two stellar performances from its young leads alongside strong direction from its filmmaker, that so rarely offers the audience a chance to (pardon the pun) breathe.
The film opens Friday at Coral Gables Art Cinema and next month at the Miami Beach Cinematheque. We got to chat on the phone with the talented filmmaker about Respire and was it a revealing conversation:
New Times: So immediately after watching the film, I bought a copy of the book and it’s fascinating how much you’ve changed the structure of the story to suit the movie. I’d love to hear how you came upon the story and about the decisions you made in adapting it.
Mélanie Laurent: I read the book when I was 17 and the author was about the same age when she wrote it. And it was a huge success and everybody wanted the rights to the book. So I called her and we talked about the book and she was like, “Oh my god, I’m so happy to hear someone who really understands my book because they want to make a fictional relationship and change everything and I’m so happy to hear someone understand what I want.”