January 31 is going to be an important date for movie director Martin Laroche as it will mark the release of his new movie, Le Rire (Laughter). Laroche is known for his previous works Les Manèges Humain and Tadoussac, both of which were selected on various international movie festivals. This time around, he’s stepping in the big league, working with a decent budget and with producer Fanny Laure-Malo It’s also the first time he’s venturing outside pure drama as a writer/director. Dealing with topics of survivor’s syndrome and the role humor can play in one’s recovery, the movie promises to be particularly moving (i.e. despite its name, don’t expect an american style comedy). Jano Lapin had the privilege of sitting down with Martin to talk about his new baby. Here’s everything you need to know about Le Rire!
The movie has been almost seven years in the making, as the scenario was written by Laroche on one extremely inspired summer of 2013. With just a few days before its official release, how does the director feel? « It’s true that the process has been very long, but I’m feeling very good right now. The movie has been wrapped for almost 8-months, so I’m eager to let it go. Given that the movie is funky and unconventional at times, it should trigger some interesting discussions. I’m curious to hear the feedback from the viewers!»
Le Rire takes place in a parallel, modern day, post-war Québec. Valérie, the movie protagonist, was scheduled to be « mass-executed », along with her boyfriend and many other people, by the enemy. She somehow miraculously survived but not the others. She’s now trying to get on with her life, stuck in between the guilt of being alive and the sheer beauty of life itself. The movie includes unconventional and disturbing elements in its storytelling, which are never easy to reproduce as a filmmaker. Is the final product a fair representation of what the director had in mind when he wrote the scenario? « I’m really happy with it. That being said, I think, as writers/directors, we’re never able to replicate exactly what we originally have in mind. There are some many external constraints (budget, days available to shoot, etc.) which prevent you from going all the way. On the other hand, there are also instances where the final results exceed your initial expectations. It can be the result of some lighting done by the director of photography or an actor’s performance which will lift the importance of a scene. It’s a game of give and take and you have to manage through it all to remain faithful to your original vision. There always comes a time where you have seen the movie over and over so many times that you don’t know what is good anymore. But, I watched it again 2 months after going « pens down » and I can say I’m satisfied! »
An actor’s performance… The cast assembled for this movie is impressive. Some of the best talent from every generation. Micheline Lanctôt. Alexandre Landry. Sylvie Drapeau. Topped by an original score by Robert Marcel Lepage. You can see the sparkle in his eyes when Laroche talks about the honor of working with Sylvie Drapeau who he admires greatly. Or how easy it was working with Micheline Lanctôt (herself a renowned director), who abandoned herself to his vision while also understanding the technical needs of a director (how to position herself for certain camera angles or spotlights, etc.). Then, there’s Léane Labrèche-Dor. She burst into the local scene a couple of years ago and been successful on television and theater plays. Le Rire marks her first time being cast in the leading role in a movie. Her performance has been praised several times already and Laroche is still in awe of her performance as well as her personality. «She’s not only a great actress, she also became a friend in the process. She’s an incredible human being with a tremendous talent. We had extremely though scenes to shoot in this movie. One time she had to crawl through dirt and naked people while it was 10 degrees outside. A lot of it was very demanding, to a point where the producer and I almost felt intimidated asking her to do all this stuff. But Léane jumped right into it and delivered a colossal performance. In between takes, I would sometimes give her a lot of comments and direction on how I wanted some of the longer scenes to play out. She would listen and nod but the next second she would be goofing around with the crew, making everybody laugh. I was like « she clearly forgot everything I just said!!! », but then she would execute everything perfectly, which was really mind blowing! She’s one of a kind. »
Martin also shared some funny stories about Labrèche-Dor. « What you have to understand is that Léane excels in any acting situation, from humor to drama. But, for some reason, she often had trouble on the set with minor stuff. On one instance, she only had to rip apart a piece of baguette. We had to do 3 takes of that little shot because she just couldn’t do it! She would just stretch the bread and it wouldn’t tear, which obviously made everybody laugh on the set! »
Martin Laroche is currently writing a scenario for a philosophical comedy. He hopes to be able to start shooting next year. In parallel, he’s also working on adapting a French novel. But for the next few days, he’s focused on Le Rire.
There’s a lot to be excited about Le Rire. The movie premieres January 31 in various movie theaters throughout the province. A version with English subtitles will be presented at Cinéma du Parc with screenings at 4:45 pm and 9:15 pm. Grab a popcorn and enjoy!!
Francophone and Francophile, trying to bring Québec’s two solitudes together through cultural exchanges. Improv Actor for 15 years. Music lover, from New Age to Death Metal and everything in between.