×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

10 Directors to Watch: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Debut Feature Kudos

Emerging French auteur follows up his Oscar-nominated short with tense feature-length portrait of a family torn by domestic violence.

A self-taught director best known in France for his work as a stage actor, Legrand takes an everyday case of domestic violence an elevates it to riveting family drama in “Custody.” The movie, whose script he developed for several years, won two prizes, including best debut film, at the 2017 Venice film festival.

As a near-lifelong performer who appeared in Louis Malle’s “Au Revoir les Enfants” as a child, Legrand says he loves working with actors. He first tried his hand at directing in 2013 with the short film “Just Before Losing Everything,” which earned him an Oscar nomination, as well as a César award.

Custody” picks up where the short leaves off, once again suggesting rather than showing the domestic violence. “As Alfred Hitchcock said, ‘There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it,’ ” says Legrand, who also sees himself as a politically minded filmmaker.

“As directors, w e’re given a lot of money to create something, and I feel a responsibility to take a stand on issues and make films that are accessible to everyone, not just cinephiles and festival audiences,” he says.

Even so, Legrand’s style hews closer to the European arthouse tradition (think Maurice Pialat) than more overtly manipulative melodrama. In fact, he studied previous films about domestic violence to identify specific cliches he wanted to avoid.

“The script has to lay down every single detail, and I make my production design choices accordingly,” says the director, who emphasized sounds of everyday life in lieu of a conventional soundtrack.

For his next film, Legrand will go in a “different direction,” preparing a dark, twisted and suspenseful comedy dealing with the female body. “I’d like to make people laugh at things they’ve been told they can’t,” he says.

Though he has been approached by agents in the U.S., Legrand is “pacing himself” before jumping into English-language filmmaking, preferring to make films based on material he developed — at least for now.

Influences: Alfred Hitchcock, Claude Chabrol, Michael Haneke
Agents: Zelig

More Film

  • DF-10193 – L-R: Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor),

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Leads MPSE Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed up love from Cinema Audio Society sound mixers with a pair of honors at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 66th annual Golden Reel Awards Sunday night. The musical biopic scored wins for dialogue and ADR as well as sound editing in a musical. The film is nominated for sound editing at the Oscars [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" in

    Writers Guild Makes It Official: This Is the Most Wide-Open Oscars Race Ever

    For the record, we’re in uncharted territory this Oscar season. While we still have the costume designers’ ceremony to get through on Tuesday, the Writers Guild Awards put a bow on the major guild kudos circuit Sunday night. The results have yielded what is, unequivocally, the most wide-open Oscar field in history. The major guild [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    WGA Awards 2019: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?,' 'Eighth Grade' Win Screenplay Awards

    In a pair of upsets, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has won the Writers Guild of America’s adapted screenplay award for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade.” The major television trophies went to “The Americans,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Homeland” and “Barry” for the [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content