The 22nd European Union Film Festival will be screening at GV VivoCity from 11 to 20 May, featuring the continent’s very best and most acclaimed feature-length offerings, from dramas to documentaries.
But if you’re looking for a more light-hearted fare at the EUFF, be sure to check out 'Second Chance' (La Chance De Ma Vie), a charming French romantic comedy about a man who is a walking bad omen to potential suitors.
We sat down with director Nicholas Cuche for a little one-on-one session about the film.
What is the inspiration behind the story of ‘Second Chance’ (La Chance De Ma Vie)?
‘Second Chance’ was inspired from a true story that happened to my producer’s sister. Since the day she moved in with the guy she fell in love with, her life has become a real nightmare. She encounters disasters, one after the other. The unfortunate events of other people are always a good source of inspiration and we thought: what a great idea for a film!
Also read: ‘Second Chance’ movie review
This is the story of a guy who brings bad luck to every girl he falls in love with. But on a more serious note, the movie - which is in fact a comedy – exalts the intangible chemistry between two characters, which result in either positive or negative energy.
We wanted to portray that happiness is not necessarily where we think it would be, and the drama in which we live today can be the “Second Chance” of our lives. To summarise, we wanted to make an optimistic and touching film; about a guy whose life is based on a lie and the happiness he finds once he stops lying.
The premise of a man who jinxes every woman he fall in love with certainly allows for many comic moments. What approach did you use to tackle the humour and tone in the film?
I wanted to make a film with a light-hearted tone, one that is fresh and direct without any irony or subtlety. Something we would call “clear fine lines” in cartoon speak.
It was very exciting as the subject enabled us to treat humour in a very visual way, and thus give it a universal appeal. We had fun trying to experiment and find out how far we could push the situations, sometimes even bordering on the ridiculous.
A bit like paying respect to the old silent films or Pierre Richard’s comedies of the 70’s. We had fun inventing the most unlikely and craziest situations…and for me, later on, producing them.
How did you decide on Francoise-Xavier Damaison and Virginie Efira for your leads?
What really strikes me about them is not only of course, their sense of comedy but also the natural chemistry between them. They are simple, natural people that we can relate to. Together, they form a strong but diametrically opposed couple.
Virginie is a combative and ambitious woman, who does the man’s job. She does not look like the victim that all the disasters fall on. On the other hand, François Xavier Damaison lacks confidence, feels weaker and is affected by the events he helps to set off.
Also read: European Union Film Festival Guide
I really like this reversal of characters, but what made up my mind was the fact that, despite their differences, there was a great chemistry between them. From the first time I saw them together, I found that they were on the same positive wavelength, the very same I wanted for this movie.
'Second Chance' trailer
Tell us about your working experience with them.
Very positive! I involved them a lot in the creative process of the movie, like I always do. I gave them the possibility to bring in new ideas, propose dialogues, which they did with talent. Even if we are in a comedy, we always play the game of truth and sincerity.
Talk us through the production process. How was the shoot? We heard that most of the filming took place in Brussels, Belgium?
Well, yes! We filmed the major part of the film in Belgium, not because of artistic reasons, but because of finances (like most of the French movies).
At first I did not take this “delocalisation” well, because the story had to take place in France, in Paris and I found that Brussels did not fit in the film’s decor.
But eventually, this turned out to be a chance to invent a world and a visual identity, which would not have been the same if I had filmed in France. This pushed me to rethink the film and to give it a more universal image, which at the end relates well to the spirit that I wanted to give to this project.
In the course of your research for this movie, you must have come across some pretty interesting stories regarding this phenomenon of bad luck. Care to share?
Indeed, for research purposes, I spent numerous hours on a website called « a shitty day » and this proved to be a good inspiration source. But apart from this, I also discovered true stories about bad luck, related to people meeting each other. It is something that we all feel unconsciously when we meet somebody.
And then there is the bad luck cycle where it’s as if a bad luck precedes another. Or, like we have all experienced it, there are days where everything goes wrong. What I understood is that good or bad luck is a fragile equilibrium, which can fall on either side, triggered by even the smallest detail.
Do you personally believe in the concept of curses and bad luck?
I do not believe in curses. But I do believe that the fact of believing to them can lead to real consequences. However, like I said before, I really think there is a good or bad luck cycle that some meetings create positive or negative energies between people. But I also believe, like in the film, that what we took for bad luck, can, with time, finally be our “Second chance”.
How does it feel to have your film travel so far and wide and have it featured here in Singapore as part of the European Union Film Festival?
I am flattered and proud. Apart from the excitement and the curiosity to discover a city and a part of the world, which I do not know, it is always a real pleasure and a real surprise when a story, which we created one day, ends up in a movie production that transcends borders. We always feel honoured and grateful when our work touches people, especially if they come from afar.
What are the best memories that you will take away from directing this film?
For me the best memories are during the shooting, when I am not only the film producer but also the viewer of the shoot I am doing, and I would suddenly smile or laugh. I had a lot of fun, with the technical aspect of the shooting of the dog, which jumps through the window, of papers flying around or of childhood flashbacks. Also the scenes where I let the actors improvise, like the ones with the swollen lips.
What are your upcoming plans for 2012 and the near future? Are there any projects in the works?
I just finished writing and producing ‘Inquisito’, a series of 8x52 minutes which is a very dark thriller set in the middle ages thus, nothing to do with comedy.
But as I love comedy, even though I think that it is the most difficult to do, I am presently finishing the casting of a new comedy for which I will start filming in September.
The 22nd European Union Film Festival happens from 11 to 20 May at Golden Village VivoCity. Tickets available from 26 Apr 2012 at Golden Village box offices nationwide and on www.gv.com.sg.