“Under the Wind of the Marquesas”: when the life of an actor intersects with that of his character

“Under the Wind of the Marquesas”: when the life of an actor intersects with that of his character


We know how much, when it comes to a film within a film, finding the right editing is the big thing. In this case, Pierre Godeau skillfully plays on a mirror frame, which returns a film actor to the character he interprets.

His fourth feature film, Sous le vent des Marquises , opens with the filming of a biopic which retraces the last years of Jacques Brel: more precisely, his farewells before he leaves with his daughter on a world tour by sailboat, finally interrupted by “a flu that cannot be cured” , he said, which prompted him to settle in a lost archipelago in the middle of the South Seas.

In the role of the aging Jacky, Alain (François Damiens), star of the “flat country”… Only, the latter, panicked, can no longer simulate and leaves the shoot at the wheel of the singer’s DS, taking the fiction with him in reality and his XXL dentures in the glove compartment. Suffering from cancer himself which requires rapid surgery, he decides to reconnect with his daughter, whom he has often abandoned in favor of a life spent between films and mistresses.

But Lou (Salomé Dewaels) lives with her mother on an island in the Gulf of Morbihan where she is passionate about oyster farming… What follows year after year is a filial road trip as a “goddess” , from Vannes to the University Hospital of Brussels, where you have to tame yourself, make up for the silences and convince the sick person to seek treatment.

Family crossover

This beautiful, moving film has the courtesy of not playing on the neurosis of the actor haunted to the bones by his role. Brel’s words help the duo communicate, expand their story and inspire new connections, while recalling the virtues of fiction as it offers a path to sincerity.

Inspired by his relationship with his own father, Philippe Godeau, producer, undoubtedly caught up in his life in cinema – Le Garçu (1995), by Maurice Pialat; The Eighth Day (1996), by Jaco Van Dormael; Fuck me (2000), by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trin Thi – the director offers a stylistic exercise where fantasy takes care of reality.

By using several image regimes, he varies the echoes and creates an emotional game with the viewer who willingly lets himself drift along with these intimate and sensitive resonances. There is the black and white of the filming, the square format where Lou imagines herself as Brel’s daughter, the actress in the biopic, the dialogues in the present tense, the reading of the script…

In this family crossover, which says a lot about the modesty of the fathers, we particularly remember a bistro scene at night. While Alain is stranded, alone, at the counter, Lou joins him at the other end of the bar, feigning a first meeting. Thus they exchange essential things like two strangers who ultimately understand each other so well.

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