Magazine article Screen International

Cannes: Justine Triet on 'In Bed with Victoria'

Magazine article Screen International

Cannes: Justine Triet on 'In Bed with Victoria'

Article excerpt

French director Justine Triet's In Bed With Victoria - a comedy drama about a criminal lawyer juggling single motherhood, a heavy caseload and complicated personal life with undertones of Woody Allen, Billy Wilder and Paul Cassavetes - opened Critics' Week at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Triet explains the protagonist grew out of her well-received 2013 debut Age of Panic (La Bataille de Solférino), set against against presidential victory celebrations in front of the French Socialist Party headquarters n May 2012 and revolving around a TV presenter covering the event while arguing with her ex partner about who is supposed to be looking after their children.

"The idea was very simple. From the beginning I wanted to go back to the same sort of character as in the Age of Panic, a single woman with children, who works and has a full life, the reverse of the female characters you find in traditional comedies, who you rarely see working and spend most the film looking for a man."

Unlike many French female directors who are reluctant to discuss how being a woman impacts their work, 38-year-old Triet is refreshingly open about her desire to create a strong female protagonist for In Bed With Victoria, drawing on central character of her debut work.

"Questions on gender can be complicated in that you want people to talk about your film, rather than the fact you're a woman but In Bed With Victoria is undeniably a portrait of a contemporary woman with a busy life and powerful job directed by a woman, which in itself is a feminist approach."

Popular Belgian actress Virginie Efira stars as Victoria, a high-flying criminal lawyer with a frenetic personal life who hits an emotional and professional wall when her a best friend asks her to defend him in a murder case at the same time as her ex creates a racy blog which is a thinly veiled portrait of her life.

"Both the drama and the comedy come out of this double process of defending a friend and prosecuting her ex. One thing that was important for me was that there is no more intimacy. Everything is out in the open, nothing is private."

Triet cites various directors as sources of inspiration for the film including Howard Hawks, Billy Wilder, Blake Edwards and Woody Allen.

"It's difficult to pin-point my influences because I've got so many. One film that did stick in my mind while I was writing the script was [John] Cassevetes' Opening Night," says Triet, referring to the US director's 1977 film starring Gina Roland, as an alcoholic actress trying to pull herself together ahead of a big performance. …

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