Laure Murat: “The Judith Godrèche affair marks a rhetorical turning point in the #metoo of French cinema”

In recent weeks, between the column on Depardieu and the Judith Godrèche affair, everyone has been wondering if the true #metoo of French cinema has finally arrived. As if something had finally moved. Yes, but what, exactly? This is the story of a tipping point. It is rhetorical.

First act: a column appears in Le Figaro , on December 25, 2023, to defend Gérard Depardieu, “sacred monster” , indicted for “rape” and “sexual assault”, and whom a video report showed spouting nonsense about a little girl riding a horse. The avalanche of counter-opinions and the change in public opinion are causing the signatories to violently backpedal, to the point that one wonders if the refrain “lynching-media court-manhunt” would not, in force, has had its day – except, apparently, for the President of the Republic.

Second act: the exhumation of Gérard Miller’s documentary on The Ruses of Desire (2011) has the effect of a bolt from the blue. In the episode on “L’Interdit”, we discover an interview with Benoît Jacquot, who recognizes, with a smirk, a touch of bravado, his taste for very young girls. He even blandly explains that cinema is only ever a “cover” for “illicit trafficking” in “morals of this type” , namely sexual relations with minors. And to cite as an example his past relationship with Judith Godrèche, 14 years old at the time.

He recognizes the illegality of this traffic, “but I didn’t give a damn,” he explains, before insisting on the fact that the entire corporation envied the profits he made from his aura as director. on stage. We could not be clearer, more precise, nor more crude. We knew the “uninhibited racist”, welcome the “uninhibited predator”. Who won’t be able to give us the “it was another time”, “we didn’t know”, since he has just admitted, with a laugh what’s more, that he was perfectly aware of his crime.

Tipping point

This is where the tipping point lies. Disgusting as Depardieu’s remarks about girls’ “moulds” are, they are provocations from a man who has made obscenity his permanent mode of depravity, when he does not purely and simply deny having ever assaulted a woman. of his life. Benoît Jacquot’s words are in some ways the opposite. Suddenly, we hear the composed, constructed speech of the organized predator. It’s almost unexpected.

However, this discourse has always been there, public, rampant, and even admitted. Benoît Jacquot has never hidden his taste for minors, just like Gabriel Matzneff for “under 16s” or Philippe Caubère for prostitutes, for example. The difference is that Jacquot has long since developed a screen discourse, which articulates his sexual desire to his work as a creator as a necessity. The 2011 extract proves that between the artist tortured by Pygmalion syndrome and the actions of the ordinary (and uninhibited) pervert there is the thickness of a cigarette paper.

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