×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cannes Q&A: Francois Ozon Talks Sexual Thriller ‘Amant Double’ (EXCLUSIVE)

One of France’s most prolific and renowned directors, Francois Ozon talked to Variety about his provocative erotic mystery “Amant Double,” which will premiere in competition at Cannes on Friday. Sold by Paris-based Films Distribution, “Amant Double” has been picked up by Cohen Media Group for North America and has been sold to all major territories. Ozon’s previous film, “Frantz,” a black-and-white period film, won big at this year’s Cesars, France’s equivalent of the Oscars. “Amant Double” stars Marine Vacth, the breakthrough star of “Young & Beautiful” (which competed at Cannes in 2013) as Chloé, a fragile young woman who falls in love with her psychoanalyst, Paul (Jeremie Renier). She eventually moves in with Paul but soon discovers he is concealing a part of his identity.

What is the genesis of “Amant Double”?

My inspiration for this film came from a novel by American author Joyce Carol Oates called “Lives of the Twins,” a short psychological mystery which she wrote under the pseudonym of Rosamond Smith.

Since the original novel is in English, did you consider making the film in English with British or American actors?

I’m often offered to direct English-language material, and the prospect enthused me but it takes too long, at least one or two years, to get projects greenlit when you shoot in another language than French. Even with “Franz,” which was partly in German, it took longer than usual to get the project financed. In France, I enjoy a tremendous freedom, I’m able to shoot a film every year and can tackle different genres and go from Western to comedy to thriller.

The last movie you presented at Cannes in competition, “Young & Beautiful,” stirred a controversy. Do you expect “Amant Double” to also spark strong reactions?

With “Amant Double,” I wanted to create a sexual thriller with strong psychological tension. The idea was not to shock but rather depict the complexity of lust. It’s definitely a departure from “Frantz” which was rather chaste; the two protagonists did nothing more than exchanging a kiss. “Amant Double” has more of a thriller bent than “Young & Beautiful.”

Since you’re so versatile, it’s difficult to pin you down as a director. Which of your films are the most personal?

I’m everywhere in my films but in a covert way. “Under the Sand” [about a woman who is in denial of her husband’s disappearance and starts to mentally disintegrate] for instance, tells a story which I lived through.

The fact that you explore so many different genres also allows you to tap into a wider talent pool. 

The casting is always crucial. For “Amant Double,” since the roles were highly demanding, revealing, I needed to work with actors who trusted me fully, and actors whom I felt close to. Since Marine Vacth starred in “Young & Beautiful” we became friends and she became a woman. I also had cast Jeremie Renier in “Potiche” and enjoyed working with him. When I put Jeremie and Marine together there was an immediate chemistry, they were captivating to watch from the start.

The Cannes Film Festival can sometimes make or break a film’s career. Are you anxious to show “Amant Double” in competition?

I feel very lucky to show “Amant Double” in competition at Cannes. The film will be released in French theaters so the stakes are high. Local critics in Cannes often seem eager to gun down French movies, but even then it doesn’t prevent films from being sold around the world over here. A competition slot at Cannes is an obvious commercial boost.

You’re one of the handful of French directors whose films travel worldwide and almost always get U.S. distribution. How do you explain the international success of your films?

I follow the commercial career of each film I direct, I traveled with them abroad. My films are co-financed by foreign companies (through pre-sales or co-production) so the international input is vital. I think overseas audiences appreciate the versatility, they like to be surprised from one films to another unlike in France where people tend to stereotype directors as if they needed some kind of predictability.

More Film

  • dolittle-DRD_Tsr1Sht_1011_RGB_4_rgb-1

    Robert Downey Jr. Embarks on Perilous Journey in First 'Dolittle' Trailer (Watch)

    Robert Downey Jr. is setting sail with some furry friends in the first trailer for “Dolittle,” Universal Pictures’ reimagining of the classic story about a man who could speak to animals. “We have no choice but to embark on this perilous journey,” he says. Set to a rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” [...]

  • Parasite

    Bong Joon Ho's 'Parasite' Posts Powerful Opening in North America

    Bong Joon-Ho’s dark comedy “Parasite,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, has launched with a spectacular $376,264 at three U.S. theaters.  Neon opened “Parasite” at The Landmark and Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles and at the IFC Center in New York, where it broke the opening record set by 2014’s “Boyhood.” Its per-screen average of [...]

  • Joker Movie

    'Joker' Dominates International Box Office With $124 Million

    “Joker” is showing impressive traction internationally with a second weekend of $123.7 million on 24,149 screens in 79 markets — a holdover decline of just 29%. Joaquin Phoenix’s psychological thriller has totaled $351.2 million outside North America after only 12 days in release. And with $192 million in domestic grosses, “Joker” has now topped $543 [...]

  • Joker

    'Joker' Remains Box Office Ruler With $55 Million

    Joaquin Phoenix is king of the North American box office once again as “Joker” scores an easy victory in its second weekend with $55 million at 4,374 sites. “Joker” dominated a trio of new entries with animated comedy “The Addams Family” leading the rest of pack with $30.3 million at 4,007 venues, topping forecasts. Will [...]

  • French director Bertrand Tavernier attends the

    Bertrand Tavernier on Coppola, Scorsese, Cayatte, Cinema’s Bright Future

    Veteran French director Bertrand Tavernier (“Round Midnight”) – president and director of the Institut Lumière and Lumière Festival, which he co-manages with Cannes’ Thierry Frémaux – has played a pivotal role in restoring classic French films and defending the importance of French directors, such as Claude Autant Lara, Henri Decoin and André Cayatte, who were [...]

  • 'Philharmonia'

    French Series 'Philharmonia' Sells to the U.K., the U.S. and Australia (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Philharmonia,” a French thriller series set in the world of a national orchestra, has been acquired in English-speaking territories from Lagardere Studios Distribution. “Philharmonia,” which was created and co-written by Marine Gacem, has been acquired by First Look Media’s Topic for SVOD rights in the U.S., and Walter Presents for the U.K. and Australia. “Philharmonia” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content