We run into her in the street, near the meeting place. A thin black figure (pants, jacket, T-shirt) tries without result to push forward a tiny white dog. At the end of the leash, Rita, a 2 month old baby bull terrier, newcomer to Charlotte Gainsbourg’s life. They took half an hour to travel a few hundred meters, one encouraging movement, the other stopping, and this learning to walk seems to delight them.
This Thursday, October 29, 2020 is a day to stroll. Only a few hours left and, at midnight, France will enter its second confinement. The walks will be timed, the interviews will take place by Zoom, it will be necessary to reconnect with expectation and uncertainty. Charlotte Gainsbourg says with a smile that she is “not the most gifted in positive energy”. But, like any anguished who knows himself, she “knows how to pretend” and take advantage of the last moments. The torments will have their time anyway, with the projects at a standstill, the counts and the predictions. We do not know, for example, when Benoît Jacquot’s film will be released, Suzanna Andler, initially scheduled for December 2, and which earned us this meeting with the actress. “As soon as possible,” she smiled again, making her expression of the moment her own.
In this adaptation of a play by Marguerite Duras, she has the leading role, that of a great bourgeois, rich, idle and on the verge of suicide. The film was shot entirely in a deserted villa on the Côte d’Azur, out of season, and this unity of place, in the spirit of the times of confinement, gives us an idea: an interview which would have precisely for anchor points the places, the houses which marked the life of Charlotte Gainsbourg, in order to unroll the memories which are attached to it. “Why not,” she smiles, stroking Rita.
After the death of her sister Kate Barry in 2013, Charlotte Gainsbourg wanted to leave Paris. She moved to a house in New York with her children. His companion, Yvan Attal, was going back and forth. Since June 2020, she is once again a resident of the 7th arrondissement in Paris. “In April,” she says, “New York had become this deserted city, the end of the world, and I had a panic. I said to myself: enough to live apart, I need to be with Yvan, my son, my mother, Yvan’s mother. ” On returning to Paris accompanied by her youngest child, Joe, 9, she found her companion and their eldest, Ben, 23. Their youngest daughter, Alice, 18, has remained in the United States, she studies on a campus.
In video, “Suzanna Andler”, the trailer
These American years were fruitful: fifteen films (by Lars von Trier, Wim Wenders, Arnaud Desplechin, Yvan Attal…) and the most intimate of his albums, Rest. For the first time, she wrote the texts in French, they talk about her sister Kate, the death of her father. “New York has allowed me to do a lot of things. It’s a stimulating city, and then there I’m anonymous, in a bubble, so very concentrated. ”
Read also ” Charlotte Gainsbourg reveals her daughters, Alice and Joe, in her new music video.
Quite the opposite of Paris, where the daughter of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg has the impression of depending on the gaze of others, on autograph requests from passers-by, on the aura of her ancestors. “At the same time, she tempers, it’s nice to be recognized. I am fortunate to be approached by people who tell me positive, affectionate things… ”And rewarding? (Laughs.) “Yes, well, here I am again my parents’ daughter. Someone stops me, I expect them to tell me about my music, about a movie. And often it is: “I am unconditional of your father / your mother”. I can only answer: “Thank you, that’s very nice”. Because it is, even if it’s a compliment that is not addressed to me! ”
In her suitcases, she brought back a third of an upcoming album. Several shootings are also in project, she has just completed that of Human things, by Yvan Attal. Their son, Ben, stars in it. “He likes it a lot, he’s always been made to be an actor and he’s discovering it today. But he knows that it’s a job where you are not sure of anything … I hope he will be able to create roles for himself, to be in a less passive approach than mine. “
The villa of the movie “Suzanna Andler”
In the seaside home chosen by Benoît Jacquot, Charlotte Gainsbourg lived there (with her cat) and played at the same time. The shoot lasted eight days, during which she did not escape further than the beach below. “We lived behind closed doors with the whole team. Every evening, we met in the kitchen of the house to prepare a meal to share together. There was a holiday vibe. ” The film literally revolves around her, present in all shots. She didn’t want to see him, she doesn’t like herself on screen. She saw it, found herself “ugly, as usual”. It is suggested that she exaggerates, she admits. “Okay ugly at times. I remember the first line of the script from L’Effrontée, which described the character. It said: “A girl, at times gracious, at times ungrateful”. Since then, it sticks to my skin. I always thought that was the definition of my physique. ”
The holiday home, child, in Normandy
This Thursday, Charlotte Gainsbourg returns from Deauville, where she was on vacation at the Normandy hotel. “It’s a place I’ve loved since I was little. My mother had a country house about fifteen kilometers away, in Cresseveuille. The four of us spent our vacations there with Kate, my father… He was hyperdocile, he played the game. Well, he was bored anyway, so there were going out, so he could go to the Normandy’s bar. ” In these Norman escapes, until the separation of her parents at the age of 9, she places her fondest childhood memories. Tells the “total excitement” of the night walks with his sister, when Jane and Serge thought they were asleep, the games with the neighbors’ children, his first love for Didier, the grandson of the farmers opposite. “It was country life. We went to village festivals, my parents loved it. They weren’t snobs at all, there was a simplicity… Which would perhaps surprise, as we think that what goes with celebrity is the madness of grandeur. There was a tiny house, an old rectory. During the year, we lived in rue de Verneuil, where everything was according to my father: its decor, its rules… So in Normandy, my mother bought this to make her own, entirely decorated in the English style, she put everything she liked. “
5 rue de Verneuil
We hesitate to ask her about the mythical private mansion of Serge Gainsbourg, which she bought on his death, kept as it is for thirty years. She must have had enough of people talking to her about her museum project that never came to fruition… “Not at all,” she cuts, “because things are finally moving forward. We have the structure, we know how it will work. ” The objective of an opening this year has even been set. Between the famous black walls, Charlotte Gainsbourg shot the video for Lying With You, farewell song to his father. “It was a big step, it will be another to open it to the public, but I think it’s what it takes, for people as well as for me. I mourned my father very badly, because there was such a public phenomenon around him. And I was young too, I was 19, so… I protected myself. I kept this house, basically, as if it was going to come back, a little ghostly ideas. I haven’t broken anything. I did not look death in the face. ”
Jane’s Parisian house
Much was exhibited in Charlotte Gainsbourg’s childhood. Her mother’s house where she lives, rue de la Tour, after the separation of the parents, is no exception. It becomes the set of a double shoot by Agnès Varda: the documentary Jane B. by Agnès V. and the movie Kung-Fu Master (mother falls in love with her daughter’s high school boyfriend, Charlotte is daughter, Jane is mother). “I didn’t want to do it, like I didn’t want to do Charlotte Forever (provocative father-daughter camera filmed by Serge Gainsbourg, Editor’s note). It is normal, it was at an age, adolescence, where one expects one’s experiences to oneself, not with one’s parents. Especially since I was lucky to have already turned on my side, Lyrics and Music, and L’Effrontée.»
For reminders of her last concert tour, she nevertheless resumed Charlotte for Ever and Lemon Incest. “He had explained the lyrics to me, it was very clear to me, and then there was so much no ambiguity with my father.” It wouldn’t be okay today, she knows, but hopes “he would do it anyway.” She paid a little at school for her father’s provocations, never held her grudge against him. “On the contrary, in the family, we were very united! As soon as he appeared on a program, we were grouped together in front of the TV, when he released a record, we listened to it over and over. It’s funny, I didn’t do that with my kids at all. ” She kept them away from the cameras for a long time. Then filmed them all, suddenly, in his clips. When she realized, “very late”, that she was infinitely happy to have these images of her as a child with her parents. “A treasure trove of memories.”
Suzanna Andler, by Benoît Jacquot. Coming soon.
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