MAINTENANCE. Cannes Film Festival 2022: “Anything can happen on the Croisette, the best and the worst”, says Bertrand Blier

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Bertrand Blier will be Tuesday, May 24 at the Cannes Film Festival, to present the reissue of “If I was a spy”, his first film, and at the end of June, in Toulouse, for a tribute to Patrick Dewaere, his delicate “Father-in-law”. .

Triple news for Bertrand Blier with first of all a novel, “Fragile des bronches”, in which he recounts a childhood which resembles his own, alongside a father, a famous actor, often absent and rather fickle, and of a mother, chronically depressed, who finds her joy only in the arms of a lover. The chapters are short, the scenes pungent, the dialogues lively. All mixed with tenderness when the teenage hero discovers the beauty of women and knows his first love. In the cinema, Bertrand Blier brings to light “If I were a spy” (1967), his first fiction film, released in 1967, presented on Tuesday May 24 as part of Cannes Classics with a fresh copy. He will also present “Beau-père” (1981) during a tribute to Patrick Dewaere, on June 24, at the Cinémathèque de Toulouse, with the Marathon des mots.

How do you feel about the idea of ​​showing this rarity that is “If I were a spy”?

I have a lot of sympathy for this film because it was my first. The shooting went very well while the release was cataclysmic (Bertrand Blier will have to wait 7 years to shoot again and it will be a triumph with “Les valseuses”, Ed). Despite the commercial failure, I consider it a positive experience.

Your father appears in the credits. How did he behave on set?

Like someone who was quite pleasant, quite cool. We got along well, there was not the slightest hitch.

This first film has nothing to do with what you will do next…

At the time, it was the tradition, novice directors most often started with a spy or detective film. It wasn’t really my favorite genre, but I fell for it. We saw a lot of films like that in the 60s, one of the best being “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” (Martin Ritt, 1965). Literature was also flourishing in this area. The problem with my film is that it was a bit complicated; the spectators did not know very well where they were going…

This year, Cannes Classics presents masterpieces such as “Poil de carotte”, “The trial”, “Let’s sing in the rain”…

(He immediately bounces off that last track) I must have seen “Singing in the Rain” when I was 17 or 18. I remember an absolute delight, an extraordinarily pleasant film.

Were you a movie buff?

Not exactly. I saw two or three films a week, like most young people my age. I still liked it a lot: I was well focused on the cinema.

Cannes Classics also presents “Viva la muerte”, by Arrabal, restored by the Cinémathèque de Toulouse…

With Arrabal, you are guaranteed to see something special. The film had greatly disturbed some viewers. Me, I liked the revolutionary side of it. I remember a magical moment.

You were selected twice at Cannes, for “Too beautiful for you” (1989) which received the Grand Jury Prize and “Les côtelettes” (2003), which was panned by the critics…

Cannes is the place where anything can happen, the best and the worst. It is therefore necessary to go there by preparing for the worst, in order to face the events in a light way. A selected film can triumph… or fail at all. Success isn’t the main thing… but it’s still not bad to have it!

In Toulouse, you will come to present “Beau-père”…

I really like the film… Patrick Dewaere is magnificent in it. “Stepfather” had a complicated career (because of his sulphurous subject, editor’s note) but, in the end, he touched a lot of people. I benefited from the extraordinary presence of Maurice Ronet. As for Patrick, he behaved very elegantly with his young partner (Ariel Besse). This kind of story can quickly become ugly…

Novels “Fragile des bronches” (Seghers, 188 pages, €17) and “Les valseuses” (Seghers, 440 pages, €21).
“If I were a spy”, at Cannes Classics, Tuesday May 24 at 6 p.m. On DVD and VOD July 20 (Pathé).
Bertrand Blier at the Cinémathèque de Toulouse (69, rue du Taur), Friday June 24: meeting at 7 p.m., screening of “Beau-père” at 9 p.m.