Emmanuelle Bercot (During her lifetime): “I wanted to write a melodrama for Benoît Magimel and Catherine Deneuve”

“In her lifetime”, Emmanuelle Bercot’s new film, selected at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, has been in theaters since November 24. The story follows Benjamin, played by Benoît Magimel, suffering from cancer. His mother, played by Catherine Deneuve, has to face this painful situation. We had the chance to meet the director a few days before the film’s release.

In his lifetime : a moving film

Emmanuelle Bercot is back as a director with her new film titled In his lifetime. Here she signs a new feature film where she stars in the leading role the actor Benoît Magimel. This is not the first time they have collaborated together, since the filmmaker has already worked alongside him in these last two realizations, Heads up and The girl from Brest. Emmanuel Bercot returns with a theme that she likes to tackle, that of health and the medical world. Here she is bending over A delicate subject which is cancer. A disease that affects millions of people every year.

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Thus the director comes to illustrate, with accuracy and depth, the distress of its characters embodied by Benoît Magimel and Catherine Deneuve. The story traces the story of Benjamin, condemned far too young by illness. Suffering from pancreatic cancer, he will have to face his suffering and that of his mother. He is closely followed by a dedicated doctor (Dr Gabriel Sara in his own role) and a nurse, Cécile de France, to accompany him. on the impossible path. One year, four seasons, to “dance” with the disease, to tame it, and to understand this that it means: to die while alive. Emmanuelle Bercot goes back to her original idea:

My starting point was to write a “melody” for Benoît Magimel and Catherine Deneuve. Then, I wanted to write the story of a mother who loses her son. And what was she losing her son to? Cancer. So I also wanted to talk about cancer, which is something that affects us all today, directly or indirectly. This obviously comes from personal experiences, but there is nothing in the film that tells intimate things. I started taking notes about it and met Dr. Sara, who is an oncologist.

Benjamin (Benoît Magimel) and doctor Sara – During his lifetime © Les Films du Kiosque

The melody of the characters

Instinctively Emmanuelle Bercot breathed a musical frame into her characters, Doctor Sara and Benjamin. A choice that was made naturally for the director who is already a Bach fan. Here we find melodies signed Jacques Loussier, which resonate with the respective stories of the different protagonists. While writing her screenplay, the director randomly listened to different music, to support his creative work, that’s when his choice fell on a particular composer:

While writing, there are two pieces by Jacques Loussier that struck me. There is one where I said to myself: it’s for Benjamin and the other is the doctor. These are songs that I have listened to often and that I wanted to put in the film. But what is crazy is that without knowing all this, Doctor Sara, who listens to a lot of music, told me that what he loved above all else was Jacques Loussier. So that was a sign, there really is something talking above us.

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