Saint Amour: when Poelvoorde made a mistake on the set

“Saint Amour” by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern was an eventful shoot in the image of its two main actors, Gérard Depardieu and Benoît Poelvoorde.

Nice success for Delépine and Kervern

For their seventh achievement released in 2016, the duo Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern brought together for the first time on screen two monsters of French cinema : Gérard Depardieu and Benoît Poelvoorde. Holy love tells the story of Bruno, played by Poelvoorde, drowning his discomfort in alcohol through a wine route. While his father Jean, played by Depardieu, wants him to take over the family business, the latter will accompany him on this tour through France and thus get closer to him, accompanied by Mike, a taxi driver, interpreted by Vincent Lacoste.

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Saint Amour © Le Pacte

Holy love is to date second biggest success of the Delépine-Kervern duo with more than 550,000 entries (just behind mammuth and its 800,000 admissions in 2010). The film was also generally well received by critics. L’Express evoked “a fiery statement full of poetry“. The Figaroscope speaks of a “offbeat road movie, epic and often hilarious“. And Large screen of a “intimate and whimsical odyssey“.

However, Release is much more reluctant. The newspaper comparing the film to a “small kitchen, which does not stand up and welcomes it, no longer rests on anything“. As The world for who “the film did not know how to implement the picturesque turn that had to be shot“.

The first meeting of Depardieu and Poelvoorde at the cinema

« We couldn’t make a film, I think, in a unique studio setting. We like to meet people in real life. And in the cinema it’s the same »Explained Gustave Kervern to Sunday Newspaper at the release of the film. At the genesis of the project therefore, Delépine and Kervern wanted to make a film shot entirely at the Agricultural Show with the actors Jean-Roger Milo and Grégory Gadebois.

The organization of the Agricultural Show having refused the project, the duo of directors then imagines a real tour of French vineyards with Depardieu and Poelvoorde. For the role of the taxi driver, they had first thought of Michel Houellebecq (to whom they had given the main role of their previous production Near Death Experience in 2014) but Delépine and Kervern were afraid of running into disaster by bringing together this trio for a whole film. Houellebecq still makes a hilarious cameo in the film as a guesthouse owner.

Holy love
Saint Amour © Le Pacte

Even if the Agricultural Show refused to allow the film to be shot entirely at home, some sequences of Holy love were filmed there. As extremely popular actors, Depardieu and Poelvoorde had to appear at the last minute to shoot within the Salon itself because they were quickly recognized. The shooting of these scenes was complicated according to Gustave Kervern, still in the Sunday Newspaper :

They were hidden behind a pillar and thrown into the crowd as into the lion’s den. There were two cameras. We did a take and people recognized them right away. They took out their cell phones: it was flashes, selfies, a riot. We hid them and started over.

Freewheeling Benoît Poelvoorde on the set

During the filming of these sequences at the Agricultural Show, Poelvoorde did not play the scenes halfway. And he did not hesitate to drink real wine. Less and less concentrated throughout the day, Gustave Kervern (who played alongside him) even went as far as whisper the dialogues to him on set lest he fail. This crazy atmosphere which reigned during the shooting was sometimes difficult to control. Gustave Kervern told it to France Inter in 2015:

When we shot the bed and breakfast scene, with Michel Houellebecq, it was with a neighbor of Benoît Delépine, near Angoulême. We had not touched the decor: when it is good, nothing is changed. Poelvoorde arrives, goes directly to a sort of buffet, sees a small vial of Calvados, placed on two wheels like a cannon. He drinks it straight. The owner arrives, furious: it was a wedding present, which he had not touched for ten years. He wanted to kick us out of the scene. Benoît was forced to apologize, to buy him back a bottle. It went on for hours! And it was like that all the time. Ultimately Vincent Lacoste was the most adult on the plateau!

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