Een sinds 10 jaar gescheiden stel komt gedwongen weer samen voor het identificeren van het lichaam van hun vermiste zoontje. Terwijl ze worstelen met de pijn uit het verleden en ze trachten hun leed samen met hem te begraven, vinden ze een manier om weer ouders en geliefden te zijn, voor een laatste keer.

Hugo was acht jaar oud toen hij vermist werd. De zoektochten leverden niets op. Het huwelijk van Christophe en Irene bleek niet bestand tegen de extreme druk van het wachten, de onzekerheid en het verdriet. Hij trok zich terug in een strandhuisje in Mexico. Zij pikte haar carriere als alt weer op in een oude muziekkoor.

Christophe en Irene leven hun leven in eenzaamheid, beschadigd door Hugo’s verdwijning. Onverwachts komt het nieuws dat er menselijke resten gevonden zijn. Alles wijst erop dat ze van Hugo zijn.
Gedurende hun gedwongen samenzijn in Montreal, gaan ze samen, maar allebei op hun eigen manier, om met de dood van hun kind.

In rustige, gecomponeerde zwartwitbeelden onderzoekt François Delisle de invloed van een gruwelijke gebeurtenis op het leven van de betrokkenen. Zijn acteurs – Sébastien Ricard en Fanny Mallette – verbeelden op indrukwekkende wijze Hugo’s ouders die in een emotioneel vacuüm terecht zijn gekomen.

CHORUS is een liefdesverhaal dat voortkomt uit verdriet, waarin twee overlevenden zich aan elkaar vastklampen om de diepste wond die er bestaat te kunnen helen.

Vanaf 3 december 2015 is CHORUS te zien in de filmtheaters.

filmposter Chorus

Canada; 2015; zwart-wit; 96 minuten; Dolby 5.1;
Frans, Engels gesproken; Nederlands ondertiteld.

Credits

Regisseur:
Acteurs: Sébastien Ricard, Fanny Mallette, Geneviève Bujold, Pierre Curzi
Productie: François Delisle & Maxime Bernard
Camera: François Delisle
Montage: François Delisle
Scenario: François Delisle
Sound-Design: François Grenon

Over de regisseur:

Francois Delisle werd 1967 in Montreal geboren; hij volgde de filmstudie aan de Concordia Universiteit in Montreal. Na een reeks korte films, realiseerde hij in 1994 zijn eerste speelfilm RUTH. In 2002 richtte hij het productiebedrijf “Films 53/12” op in Montreal. Hij werkt als regisseur, producent, cameraman, scenarioschrijver en acteur.

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT:
By featuring a fragmented couple forcibly brought together after ten years over the body of their son, I knew that we’d join them in exploring the realms of memory, remorse, suffering, hope and the struggle to live in the face of death. For ten years, this man and woman wandered, aimless and disoriented. Forced to return to the scene of the massacre, they have to try to mourn, to heal the radically narcissistic wound caused by losing a child. For, truth be told, they are no longer parents; they are “nothing.” The void has demolished their way of thinking, talking and feeling, everything that made up their subjective beings. The death of a child brings his parents face to face with their mortality. In an abstract sense, they need to accept their eventual deaths, and in real terms, they need to live their lives in the here and now. With Chorus, despite the darkness we’re delving into, I wanted to make sure death didn’t damage the two characters’ ability to live. Memories, nostalgia and moments of strangeness remain, but with the possibility or hope of being incorporated into a newly invigorated life, free of sentimentality. For that to happen, things had to be out in front and visible. We had to stare without flinching at what we usually turn away from. More than anything, I wanted Chorus to be a life experience, to go well beyond the filmmaker’s craft. For here, let’s not forget, we’re just as much on the side of death as on the side of life.

FILMOGRAFIE:
2015 CHORUS
2013 THE METEOR
2010 TWICE A WOMAN
2007 YOU
2004 HAPPINESS IS A SAD SONG
1994 RUTH

CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS CHORUS

De pers over CHORUS

“Chorus” is that rare tearjerker that earns its right to be one: profoundly, unsentimentally sad, and with a bewitching beauty to supply ample doses of hope.”
Indiewire.com

“A gritty, emotionally honest (and draining) film about coming to grips with the horrors life can throw at you at any given moment.”
Chicago Magazine

“It’s a delicate balance. The mood is heavy and could easily tip to the side of melodrama, but Delisle keeps his cool by keeping emotional breakdowns to a minimum.”
Montreal Gazette

“Observing a finely-wrought filigree of despair, “Chorus” is remarkably effective at making you feel something you already know to be true.”
The Playlist

“A festering beauty of a film slowly reveals itself in this bleak but uplifting black-and-white study of grief from Quebeçois director François Delisle, an acutely aware portrait of a relationship after the unimaginable.  ”
Cine-vue.com

‘Chorus’ is a project you’ve been thinking about for a long time, right?

Yes, it’s a project that took a while to come to fruition: I started it before ‘Twice a Woman’, which I completed in 2010. I then directed ‘The Meteor’ before going back to it. Paradoxically, the result is quite close to the first script I wrote, even though the project went through a rollercoaster ride of different phases over the years. At the beginning, I wanted to write something other than a traditional synopsis, so the first script was fairly poetic. In retrospect, you could even see it as a blueprint for the tone of ‘The Meteor’. Narratively, however, everything was there. I later decided to work with a co-screenwriter, but our collaboration was a bust. So it took time for the wounds to heal and for me to be ready to consider re-writing the material.

It reminds me of the final line from Bresson’s pickpocket: “what a long road I had to travel to get to you.”

Yes. It wasn’t until Catherine Martin’s ‘A Journey’, which I produced, that I went back to writing ‘Chorus’. I also think my experience with ‘The Meteor’ seeped into the project.

You seem to have a real propensity for dramatically loaded subjects and extreme situations like conjugal violence, killing, kidnapping and child murder. What draws your filmmaking and your imagination into such dark places?

Just taking on subjects like that necessarily creates some pretty strong tension. As a result, the issues become clear. At that point my work consists in finding nuance and subtlety, which suits me better than having to add another layer so it works dramatically. In other words, what defines these situations is that they pull the narrative thread tight; I can build around it more freely since I know that I’ll get eventually to the other end of the thread. But that’s all technical details. In general, I’d say that these issues help me deal with life head-on: difficult, violent subjects lead us away from entertainment. I don’t want to make films for entertainment because I see that as a kind of offensive nihilism, a way of giving up in the face of our destiny and the challenges posed by our humanity. I want to grapple with reality; I want to face up to it. I feel that’s a sign of vitality: dealing with death is a good way of dealing with life. I often tell actors, “You don’t need to overplay it; it’s already loaded enough.” These are subjects that allow for, and even demand, a certain economy. I’m very interested in the repercussions these situations have on the bodies of those who live through them. It’s probably less obvious in ‘Chorus’, but for example in You, the main concern was observing the movement of bodies clashing against each other in situations of extreme emotion.

And what was the spark behind ‘Chorus’? Was it the idea of a child being kidnapped or was it something else?

The spark was the feeling of loss. I experienced that at one point in my life, and I realized that it can lead to a kind of fetishism: you save someone’s phone messages and cling on to their voice, for example; you refuse to let go of that little fragment. That’s how the idea arose of a couple who get back together through mourning a child. All that’s from a very theoretical perspective, since I’ve never been through anything like that. To me, the focal point was the ending, when they’re together on the staircase. Everything had to converge toward that. Afterwards, the writing, the shooting and the form got fleshed out, but the trajectory was already clear.

So the idea of loss was the essence of your approach?

To me, living means coming to grips with loss. Mourning is an essential part of existence, whether of a person, a thing, an ideal or a dream.

We’re all familiar with couples who fly apart after the death of a child. It’s become almost a cliché. The originality of your approach is to go in the opposite direction, taking a couple who have broken up and bringing each half together. 

Starting the story ten years after the child’s death creates a distance from the initial shock. Right off the bat, the characters are shattered and broken. Yet they’ll have a chance to rebuild themselves by finishing a narrative that came to an abrupt end: the child’s body was never found, there was no funeral, etc. Soit’s an interesting challenge to rebuild characters who are in pieces, imprisoned in their memories. Putting ten years between the child’s disappearance and the beginning of the film gives me access to characters who are no longer in crisis mode and, as a result, can put in words what they’re going through and how they feel. It’s a definite advantage when you want to go deeper into a subject.

The film seems built around the idea of inverse symmetry: he fled to Mexico but has contact with his father, who’s comforting and well-grounded, while she stayed here and has contact with her mother, who bums money and seems like an outcast. 

They experienced the same loss together, but their reactions are different, some would say opposite. I felt it was important to show that that came about due to different family backgrounds and different upbringings. Their differences came together over the child. When the child was no longer there, only their differences remained. This relationship of inverse symmetry probably comes from the way couples complete each other. We find something in someone else that we need, that we don’t have. This can be seen even in parents.

What about the title, ‘Chorus’?

Music and choir is mainly what keeps Fanny anchored to life and society. At first, the film was supposed to be called Forget-Me-Not, after the flower. But the graphic power of titles is important to me. And in that sense, ‘Chorus’  was much better. Phonetically, it’s also reminiscent of coeur (French for “heart”), of a pulsating motion that evokes the waves that are so important to the character of Sébastien. So the title links the two characters in several ways.

When did you decide on black and white? 

At the beginning, but subconsciously. I mean that I didn’t one day decide that it should be in black and white, but I saw the scenes as they are in the final film, which is pretty weird. Maybe I didn’t want to admit to myself that I was going back to black and white. After writing the final version of the script, I chanced upon some images by the American photographer Mark Steinmetz and thought that they matched the film’s atmosphere. They’re low-contrast images where the shades of grey override the blacks and whites. Since I did the photography on the film and also the colour correction, I had full control over these aspects of the production.

Isn’t it hard to be in contact with the actors when you’re in charge of the film’s photography? 

Quite the opposite! There’s a direct connection with the actors. A few years ago, I felt that lighting was too complicated, so I just did the framing, which caused some tension with the director of photography, who wasn’t used to working like that. But now I’ve found a crew of gaffers and grips who have my back and whom I have a good rapport with, so I can do both. To me, it’s something natural and so much faster. I see right away when it isn’t working. There’s no filter between the actors and me, and the fact that I’m physically among them rather than looking down over them means that I don’t need to tell them much; we communicate practically by instinct. While doing the framing I touch them; we have a kind of non-verbal language and I don’t actually talk much.

Do you do a lot of hand-held camera work?

Quite a lot, although for this film I succumbed to the pleasures of the dolly camera. For once, I had a bigger budget! But yes, there’s quite a bit of hand-held camera, even though you can’t really tell in the final product. I’m someone who arrives on set extremely prepared. Almost maniacally so. The crew members usually appreciate that a lot, but it starts to hamper me a little. So the hand-held camera helps me free myself up.

How prepared are you exactly? What does that mean in practice? 

Everything’s calculated. I have scale drawings of every location. I know where to put the rails, where they start and where they end. Everything is broken down, the angles are determined; I know everything in advance. Ideally, that should be a jumping-off point. In the case of ‘The Meteor’, I had a lot of freedom because there was no technical crew. I’d bought a camera and I’d go out and film with my son. I had time. For ‘Chorus’, I made sure to give myself that time and that freedom. In Mexico, for example, I arrived a week earlier than everyone else and took the opportunity to go out filming with the help of my driver: no actors and no pressure. That added a lot to the film.

As your own producer, your own screenwriter and your own camera operator, you benefit hugely from recent technological advances that give you more freedom. 

Absolutely — technological advances have a definite real-life impact on me. But all that happened gradually. I did the colour correction for ‘Chorus’ myself because now you can get your hands on the same software used by post-production companies. When you caused some tension with the director of photography, who wasn’t used to working like that. But now I’ve found a crew of gaffers and grips who have my back and whom I have a good rapport with, so I can do both. To me, it’s something natural and so much faster. I see right away when it isn’t working. There’s no filter between the actors and me, and the fact that I’m physically among them rather than looking down over them means that I don’t need to tell them much; we communicate practically by instinct. While doing the framing I touch them; we have a kind of non-verbal language and I don’t actually talk much.

Do you do a lot of hand-held camera work? 

Quite a lot, although for this film I succumbed to the pleasures of the dolly camera. For once, I had a bigger budget! But yes, there’s quite a bit of hand-held camera, even though you can’t really tell in the final product. I’m someone who arrives on set extremely prepared. Almost maniacally so. The crew members usually appreciate that a lot, but it starts to hamper me a little. So the hand-held camera helps me free myself up.

How prepared are you exactly? What does that mean in practice?

Everything’s calculated. I have scale drawings of every location. I know where to put the rails, where they start and where they end. Everything is broken down, the angles are determined; I know everything in advance. Ideally, that should be a jumping-off point. In the case of ‘The Meteor’, I had a lot of freedom because there was no technical crew. I’d bought a camera and I’d go out and film with my son. I had time. For ‘Chorus’, I made sure to give myself that time and that freedom. In Mexico, for example, I arrived a week earlier than everyone else and took the opportunity to go out filming with the help of my driver: no actors and no pressure. That added a lot to the film.

As your own producer, your own screenwriter and your own camera operator, you benefit hugely from recent technological advances that give you more freedom. 

Absolutely — technological advances have a definite real-life impact on me. But all that happened gradually. I did the colour correction for ‘Chorus’ myself because now you can get your hands on the same software used by post-production companies. When you have a shoestring budget, colour-correcting a feature film takes five days. For ‘Chorus’ it took me 12 or 13 weeks. I’d make a mistake and start again, learning on the job. But in the end it paid off: I’m convinced there are remnants of that in the film. Digital images are very sharp. I had to soften them because the film couldn’t support that degree of sharpness. I looked for a long time for a way of giving the image the texture I needed. It’s hard to find that with a professional colour corrector. You get a good result, but not necessarily what you want because you can never afford to start again and try out various formulas; the colour corrector wants to move things along because every hour costs money. For ‘Chorus’, I had the luxury of time because I wasn’t depending on anyone.

When you’re performing several jobs at once, how do you work with your team? 

It’s quite simple: over time, I’ve found people I have an affinity with. Their support is invaluable. And I also have to say that for ‘Chorus’ I did something for the first time: every week during preparation, we went to see a film together on the big screen. I chose the films. It’s hard to say what the actual impact of that was, but I feel like it was useful. We had the same references; we were in synch aesthetically.

Sébastien Ricard was the lead actor in Catherine Martin’s ‘A Journey’, which you produced. Is that when you discovered him?

Yes, in a way. I mostly knew him from the theatre, but seeing the rushes from Catherine’s film, I noticed that he’d grown older, put on weight and bulked up. Sébastien is no extravert; he has an inwardness that really suits the character.

And Fanny Mallette?

That happened in casting. Fanny is a real Stradivarius. In the auditions, I did the camera work myself to be closer to the actors, and right away I felt that we were communicating and something was happening.

— –INTERVIEW BY MARCEL JEAN

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