“You are the most important thing in my heart. I’m not far. I just need a little time, ”says the mother to her daughter through a voice message to her little eight-year-old daughter that when she hears the message she can’t help but scream“ no, no, don’t leave me! ”.‘‘ (‘Angel Face’) is the debut film by French filmmaker Vanessa Filho and a no doubt puzzling and moving story with deep and moving performances by Marion Cotillard who plays Marlene, a young mother who lives alone with her eight-year-old daughter (Elli), and Ayline Aksoy-Etaix, in her first performance.Featured in the ‘A Certain Look’ selection at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, ‘Angel Face’ surprised critics in part because it is the director’s debut feature, who had long wanted to bring this project to reality weather. A unique story that portrays the complicated life of an unresponsible single mother and her precocious daughter who lives fascinated with her, despite all the excesses of her mother. After a night of partying, her mother decides to leave with a man she barely knows and leave her daughter completely alone. Both must face their demons in this bold tale.
Where did the story of this movie come from? Why talk about a mother who abandons her daughter?
It is a subject in particular that moves me a lot, but it is not just about abandoning her daughter, but about how motherhood is understood. It is a film that relates the lack of love, the dependence on relationships, the insecurity experienced in a love story. Marlene (Marion Cotillard) feels that she cannot love her daughter, she does not believe in herself to be better and continues to make mistakes and errors. Luckily, the daughter (Elli) has strong survival instincts. Both have many sufferings inside. The mother has an image of what a happy woman should be. During filming, I was talking to Marion about what the girl character would have been like, and this is something that allowed her to imagine even her character’s childhood.
Why a mother who abandons and not a father, as is more usual?
I wanted to reverse the dialogue, and let the mother do it. There is a lot of emptiness, the daughter is many times more adult than her mother… this is a movie also about how relations between mothers and daughters are.
This is your first movie, how did you deal with it? What prompted you to do it?
I have been waiting many years to make this film, it took me many years to make the decision to film, but the way the story came to me was somewhat shocking, it was suddenly. I remember that one day I was walking on the beach and the idea came to me, and I was in my apartment for weeks writing the story. When I finished I understood that it was a story in which I felt safe…
In his first film, he manages to work with an actress of Cotillard’s level
Working with Marion was great, she was very excited, she is a very empathetic person, we work easy, she is a great star. From the second day of work I started to feel very comfortable with her, the first I was very nervous (laughs). Then I realized her professionalism, that she concentrates a lot on her work, gets involved very well, we always walk together… It was great to work with tremendous actors.
What are you most proud of in this movie?
When I see that people are moved by the girl, by the love that she feels for her mother. It is more complex than judging the mother, it is not something that she does on purpose, she makes mistakes and at the end of the film people are moved, I am proud that we managed to make the characters complex enough to move the audience.
How did the movie go? What did they say in France about her?
I think it has had a great reception because it is the first time that I make a film and it was in Cannes, and it was very fast, we had finished it just a week before the launch. It was a bit stressful, but the reaction was great, many people have reacted very well and were surprised by the girl’s performance, it was the first time she acted.