Adapted from the novel of the same title by Hannelore Cayre, crowned in 2017 by the European thriller prize and the Grand Prix for detective literature, The mum by Jean-Paul Salomé saw his release in France shaken up by the pandemic calendar. This did not prevent the critical success of this mixed-thriller comedy, starring Isabelle Huppert, counter-employment in a hilarious vein. Here is that this film, where mystification and scheming become its playground, lands on Friday March 5 in our newly reopened theaters.
Met last year in Paris, the iconic actress took up a major challenge: to interpret this role, it was necessary to speak Arabic, a language that was unknown to her on many occasions. At valiant heart nothing impossible. “A great experience,” she said at the time, “but difficult. It took me a long time. I learned with a teacher paying attention to phonetics, syllable by syllable. The fact remains that today, I forgot everything… ”
Jean-Paul Salomé, after four years as president of Unifrance, had traveled a lot with Isabelle Huppert on a promotional tour for the film. She by Paul Verhoeven. He wanted to stage it. She wanted to, but for a comedy, a genre for which the actress is less in demand than for the drama. One thing leading to another, the filmmaker of Shadow women was approached to adapt The mum, whose mix of genres he loved. And as chance does things well, the interpreter of The pianist Cayre had just read on the plane, which had made her happy. So the mechanics got under way.
In the film, Isabelle Huppert responds to the sweet name of Patience Portefeux, a Franco-Arab judicial interpreter working for the Paris narcotics brigade. She takes care of her sick mother, has a romantic relationship with a police superintendent (Hippolyte Girardot), but hardly rides on gold. From coincidence to coincidence, the 50-year-old ends up leading the double life of a drug trafficker, soon sought after everywhere. And here she is, veiling like a rich emir’s wife, sunglasses included, lugging her regal and intriguing quickdraw through the streets of Belleville, pocketing the money of the deals. A mother, in slang, is a mother, here the female equivalent of a mafia godfather, a gang leader.
An amoral woman
Her mother, Isabelle Huppert describes her as a completely amoral woman. “She doesn’t ask herself any questions; transgressive without knowing it, courageous without knowing it either, playing on the clichés of the Arab woman. “
Jean-Paul Salomé found it amusing to emerge from the “good thinking” of time, as he puts it. “We used today’s Paris. I wanted to capture the Chinese community, the third generation of French Arabs. We took extras from the filming locations, in Belleville, Barbès, Ménilmontant. I am very sensitive to the fate of these communities in my society. ” Fact, The mum flirts with social cinema.
Isabelle Huppert believes in concert with the director that everything was already in the novel at the source of the film: “A rather insolent tone, the mixture of genres, but the“ portrait of a woman ”aspect was more accentuated on the screen. Comedy, but not only… Polar, but not only… Portrait of a woman, but not only… It is also the X-ray of a changing society, with a character in a certain destitution. Cinema is political in spite of itself. It absorbs the climate when something happens. “
A friendship is created between the character of Huppert and the mysterious Chinese woman, Madame Fo (Jade-Nadja Nguyen), whose filmmaker has developed the figure of strength and enigma, like his duet with the heroine.
The great interpreter of Claude Chabrol believes that the filmmaker ofA women’s affair would not have disowned The mum : “This absence of morality mixed with a form of humanism … This profile of mother courage which soars above a certain materialism when the manna presents itself in front of her … This elegance of gaze …”
Isabelle Huppert sees her character’s relationship with the distraught lover, doubled as a cop suddenly called upon to suspect his flame, as “a love story at the dawn of something that never happens”.
For Hippolyte Girardot, this role of police commissioner, visited by so many interpreters on the screen on all registers, was not a routine job. “It was necessary to highlight it, to straddle a story,” he explained. On paper, in the scenario, it may seem trivial. But the comic part of the film nourished my character. He is incapable of playing the macho with Patience, feels for her a sincere feeling, while being unable to express it. Is she playing with him? And then, let’s face it, it was funny to play a man tangled up, shy, facing Isabelle Huppert. In front of a big size like her, as an actor, we increase the pace. I like to play vulnerable and a little ridiculous men. Or the flamboyant roles. It depends. “