from rap clips to “L’Amour ouf”, how Gilles Lellouche became a director

from rap clips to “L’Amour ouf”, how Gilles Lellouche became a director
from rap clips to “L’Amour ouf”, how Gilles Lellouche became a director

Gilles Lellouche presents “L’Amour ouf”, the most anticipated French film in the competition. Adapted from the novel by Irishman Neville Thompson, with an XXL budget and a five-star French-speaking cast, this project confirms the director’s new status within French cinema.

To walk the red carpet, Gilles Lellouche did not hesitate to pick up his phone. As he finishes editing his first solo film, The Great Baththe actor-director calls Thierry Frémaux, the general delegate of the Cannes Film Festival, to watch his film, with a view to a screening on the Croisette in 2018. Against the advice of its producers, Alain Attal and Hugo Sélignac. “We wanted to protect him, and he was the only one of the trio who wanted to go. (…) And he was right”relates the second in Release.

The Great Bath, which tells the adventures of a group of men embarking on a synchronized swimming competition, attracted nearly 4.3 million spectators. This film alone succeeded in giving Gilles Lellouche credibility behind the camera, he who already had a great career ahead. And allowed him to overcome a painful first experience as a director, Narco, directed with his childhood friend Tristan Aurouet. Strengthened by this unexpected triumph, he was able to immerse himself in Love phewwhich is presented in competition, Thursday May 23.

Gilles Lellouche had been dreaming of this project for around fifteen years. Since Benoît Poelvoorde spoke to him, in 2006, about this Irish book, by Neville Thompson, which tells the passionate and thwarted love story between Johnser and Jackie. But transposing what he imagines to the screen requires a significant budget. “I realized its magnitude and its excess (…) A producer would never have given me the means to make such a film”he admits in the June issue of the magazine First. He therefore put his ambitions in the closet to bring them out again later The Great Bath, “which allowed us to make the film that Gilles wanted”confirms producer Hugo Sélignac to the specialized site Full screen. Success, as always, opens many doors.

Gilles Lellouche moved the story to northern France, in the 1980s and 1990s, and Johnser was renamed Clotaire. The two characters are played by François Civil and Adèle Exarchopoulos. Around two of the new leading figures of French cinema, we find Alain Chabat, Benoît Poelvoorde, Raphaël Quenard, Anthony Bajon, Elodie Bouchez and the two young Mallory Wanecque and Malik Frikah. A prestigious casting.

But before getting there, Gilles Lellouche has come a long way. A youth in Fontainebleau, where he discovered theater thanks to a French teacher in fifth grade. Then the Florent course, where “we talk about Brecht, we talk about Chéreau, and then, the next day, we find ourselves propelled into the reality of this profession: unemployment”he says in Madame Figaro. Shock Hatethe film by Mathieu Kassovitz, this “hip-hop aesthetic that [lui] matches”as he assures in The world, pushes him behind the camera. With his friend Tristan Aurouet and “a friend from Cours Florent”Léa Drucker, he is launching a short film, 2 minutes 36 minutes of happiness.

“We’re taking a leap into the void. I’ve never touched a camera before. But I feel alive like never before!”

Gilles Lellouche, actor-director

in the world”

Ads (Cegetel, McDonalds) and clips for MC Solaar, Saïan Supa Crew and NTM follow. Around twenty productions later, a producer suggested that the duo make a second short film, Why… passkeu. Alain Attal came across it, liked it and offered Gilles Lellouche and Tristan Aurouet the chance to co-direct a first film, Narco.

We are in 2003, and with his friends Guillaume Canet, Léa Drucker and Benoît Poelvoorde, then in full explosion, Gilles Lellouche launches out, enthusiastic, before becoming disillusioned. “The filming went very badly. I had a not very friendly team, who didn’t have much compassion or patience. And what’s more, I was very disappointed by the result of the film, a thousand miles away of what I had fantasized”he recalled at the end of 2023 in First. Narco therefore caused a slight trauma for me.”

This experience cools him. “Several scripts did not see the light of day. My acting career was taking off and it was complicated to write with three-month interruptions”he explains in Le Figaro. Do not tell anyone, The Death Instinctthe first part of the diptych on Jacques Mesrine by Jean-François Richet, The Little Handkerchiefs, Point blank, by Fred Cavayé, established him as an actor. In the general public’s imagination, he becomes this gang guy and the physical actor ready to play the big guy. The unfaithfula sketch film of which he directed a segment with his friend Jean Dujardin, also shaped his image in the eyes of the general public.

“I was obviously a moron who spent his life in nightclubs.”

Gilles Lellouche, actor-director

in “Psychologies Magazine”

Catherine Deneuve pins it in Firstensuring that the transition to the staging of the two accomplices is an act “completely aberrant”. “Directing is much more than knowing how to do a shot-reverse shot”she tackles in September 2013. An attack he doesn’t care about “royally”he responds on Europe 1. With his clips and Narcohe claims to have “a very small legitimacy as a director”.

Carefree party animal, virile man, good friend… Gilles Lellouche wants to get rid of all these labels. “J“I had the impression for a long time that I was missing out on who I was, it was high time to make a film that resembles me”he confides to Figaro. He then immerses himself in The Great Bath. For two months, he went into exile with his friend and co-author Ahmed Hamidi in California and wrote “from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day, without friends, without phone calls, without appointments”he details in the review GQ.

He who has always been the one who organized dinners, holidays, who called people“, he notes in the magazine She, then finds himself at the center of a large 16 million euro machine bringing together leading actors and actresses from very different backgrounds. The gang man found “interesting to break the chapels”he says in “Clique” on Canal+.

“I didn’t want to shoot ‘Little Handkerchiefs at the Swimming Pool’. I chose genius actors that I esteem.”

Gilles Lellouche, actor-director

in “Madame Figaro”

Mathieu Amalric is the first he asks. His agreement, without even reading the script, leads to that of others. “This film was a fairly mind-blowing succession of green lights”, savors Gilles Lellouche in “Clique”. Although he considered playing the role played by Philippe Katerine or Benoît Poelvoorde, he ultimately refused, in order to devote himself completely to his feature film, as he says in First. He also puts into it what he learned from his friend Guillaume Canet, also an actor who successfully became a director. “I observed, with great admiration, how he brought his team together, the energy he displays on a film set”he describes in Psychologies Magazine.

On his set, Gilles Lellouche’s personality shines through. “This shoot is very joyful [de L’Amour ouf]. Very supportive”, comments Adèle Exarchopoulos in the magazine First of June. “He’s the most enthusiastic and generous guy I know.” But a good friend also knows how to restore order when necessary. On The Great Bath, “Gilles has badly cropped the actors once or twice”, confirm to Parisian producer Alain Attal. “He told them: ‘You’re doing sh… You rehearsed for six months to do this!'” When the film is released, the public discovers a new Lellouche. “People said to me: We didn’t expect that from you. I wanted to answer: ‘But what did you expect? A kung fu film?’ This is where I understood the gap between what I am and the image I project.” he confides daily.

Even though he has only made three films in almost 30 years of career, Gilles Lellouche likes to wear this filmmaker’s hat. The writing of the scenarios, the atmosphere of the set, “to create a world that belongs only to [lui]vsthis subtraction from reality [lui] I really like it”he justifies in Madame Figaro. For Love phew, he surrounded himself with his faithful sidekick Ahmed Hamidi, but also with the director and screenwriter Audrey Diwan, Golden Lion in Venice in 2021 with The Event. “I immediately saw an alter ego in her,” he says in Psychologies Magazine. “She is a very strong, intelligent woman, an enlightened feminist who fights in their most righteous terms. I have also always admired her ability to be able to tell lots of very different stories with the same involvement and the same originality I needed her accuracy, her poetry and her authorial technique, because she writes extremely well.

Already at the helm of a comfortable budget for The Great Bath, Gilles Lellouche had even more freedom for this new project: 32 million euros. What to put a little pressure on? “To say you don’t have this weight would be a lie”he confesses in First. But his producers let him work, despite the announced three hours of film. “I experienced the filming with enthusiasm and undoubtedly a form of naivety in the face of the pressure that such an expensive and ambitious film can generate”, he concludes in the magazine. And 18 years after discovering the book, he made “the film that[il] dreamed[t] duty”.

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