When will I be Loved
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Q&A WITH JAMES TOBACK
What was your inspiration for this film?
I wanted to make a movie about a woman who was a lot smarter than the men in her life realize she is which often seems to be the case. I like mixing comedy and drama and there is something inherently comical and dramatic about men underestimating the capacity of women they believe they control. I also like movies that center on one particular character whose complexity and personality and behavior generate the plot‚ instead of there being a pre-ordained plot through which the character moves. This film started with the premise that there was a smart‚ unformed‚ restless‚ highly sexual‚ extremely articulate young woman. I imagined her to be spoiled‚ with her family wealthy and totally behind her. I wanted to see her act according to some instinctive sense of what.s going to excite her and challenge her‚ and get herself involved in a series of encounters with a couple of men‚ encounters that force the men to reveal themselves and through which she reveals herself not only to them but to herself. Even though the film takes place in a short period of time‚ it is long enough for each of the main characters to go through some considerable changes.
There was also a very definite and exciting musical and visual plan. Musically‚ I wanted to extend some basic ideas I had tried in BLACK AND WHITE . the juxtaposition and overlapping of different musically worlds (the assumption being that all musical worlds inhabit one musical universe). Bach (played by Glenn Gould)‚ the exquisite Beethoven Razomovsky Quartet and the ravishing voice of RIA (a great new talent) reflect different aspects of the characters. wide ranging taste.
My other ambition was to use the great Larry McConkey‚ the best Steadicam operator in the world‚ as director of photography and shoot the entire movie with the Steadicam‚ not just for technical reasons‚ but also for psychological reasons and philosophical and economic reasons.
How do you think the decision to shoot exclusively with a Steadicam affected the performances?
The most significant way was that the actors were free to move as they chose within the frame. We rarely had to use marks‚ so there was a freedom of physical movement and a sense of real behavior that I don.t think is possible in the traditional mode of making movies‚ which really treats actors like robots. It also means you do a lot less repetition and that means a great deal to actors who relish the idea of moving and discovering things. It lends shooting a certain excitement and pressure and intensity.
The film has a very film noir premise‚ but it.s unlike any other film noir . the scenes are filled with light and the classical and hip hop music sets a unique mood. Did you look to any other films to develop this approach?
I was drawn to BELLE DU JOUR and CONTEMPT. Both of those films really resonate in my mind in some unconscious way. But I wasn.t trying to redo them in any way. I never understood letting a film influence you in that way‚ it feels like a kind of plagiarism. For better or worse‚ I have too much vanity to ever consciously borrow anything from anybody. Ironically‚ the best young director in France‚ Jacques Audiard‚ is remaking FINGERS. That I find flattering and amusing. I like someone doing it to me; I just don.t believe I could do it to anybody else.
Did you have Neve in mind when you wrote Vera?
For the last 12 years‚ I.ve had a very intense curiosity about Neve‚ so much so that there were several occasions when I had an opportunity to meet her and I avoided doing so because I felt the circumstances were not ideal and I didn.t want to blow an initial encounter on a wrong setting. It wasn.t a particular performance in a part. I was just always eager to see her perform without being able to analyze why. I found myself going to movies that I might not otherwise have seen because I was eager to see her. I always felt that there was a great deal of range and ability she had that had not been shown in any of the movies I.d seen her in. When you find an actor like that‚ it.s very exciting. To take someone who is relatively new‚ like Robert Downey‚ Jr. in THE PICK-UP ARTIST‚ Harvey Keitel in FINGERS‚ or Power in BLACK AND WHITE‚ is thrilling. It.s interesting to give people an opportunity to discover capacities and powers that they may not know they have instead of giving them a role that they.re confident about. It.s more fun to engage in this journey without a clear idea of exactly what.s going to happen and how far you can go. That excitement is mutual when it.s working well. So when I found out Neve was eager to do the movie I was quite excited because you don.t always have the opportunity.
Neve was my full collaborator. I created Vera out of imagination‚ but as I got to know Neve‚ she helped shape the script. When we started shooting‚ only about half the script was written (the scenes between Vera and Count Tommaso and Vera and Ford in the middle of the movie). The first 20 minutes of the film wasn.t clear. I found that each day her reactions to my suggestions and her own suggestions were all adding to the understanding we both had of the work in progress . the film and her character.
Vera is very calculated and makes mature decisions seemingly on the fly‚ but she also jumps on the bed and calls her parents in tears when the movie ends. How grown up is she?
I think her crying at the end is a complete fake. I think it.s all a put-on for her father. She.s far too manipulative and shrewd to feel any deep emotion. The scene that fascinates me the most‚ and what Neve does so well‚ is when Vera bursts in to the agonized rage at Ford because she claims she was stiffed. We.ve just seen her put a million dollars in the vault‚ but because she.s so incredibly in the moment emotionally you have trouble believing her anger is fake. Vera is an actor‚ she.s a performer in her own drama and discovering herself as the movie goes on‚ just the way the film is defining itself as her behavior goes on.
You.re a native New Yorker and this film is shot in New York City. What is it about the city that intrigues you or inspires you as a filmmaker?
I like working all over‚ in Paris‚ everywhere. But I know New York so well that I am sure I.m getting things absolutely right culturally. When I see other people.s movies made in New York‚ I.m often shocked at how abysmally wrong they are. They don.t get the mood‚ they just don.t get it. It.s not just physical details. In addition‚ it.s a tremendously interesting city to shoot in because it.s so varied. There.s Central Park‚ which is an oasis‚ and there are so many cultural‚ racial‚ and sociological pockets‚ it strikes me as a phenomenal place to make a movie.
You play a professor in the movie who is dedicated to uniting the races . is this one of your goals as a filmmaker?
Exploring racial tensions has been part of my life and part of my films for a long time. I wanted to play this character to express some views I have and to make fun of them at the same time. I like to play a character where I can play two or three things at the same time. I think it.s fun to undermine what you.re seriously trying to do.
Mike Tyson appears in this film and he also appeared in your film BLACK AND WHITE. What is it about Mike Tyson?
We are good friends. He.s an immensely complex and surprisingly articulate character. One of the worst effects of the whole media era we live in is that everyone is judged too quickly. Opinions are formed off gossip. Of course‚ there are people you don.t have to brood about too much to figure out‚ but there are a lot of people who are surprisingly complicated and interesting as you get to know them. Mike is one. And I think he has a great screen presence. He.s a natural improviser‚ and he.s completely uninhibited which is a very good trait to have in the movie business. I like to use actors who are not trapped in the bondage of their habits and self-imposed limitations. I much prefer to work with people who enjoy the idea of not knowing what.s going to happen next. You want people who will continue to forge their character.s identities through behavior that they are improvising. Film is the ideal medium to allow you to do that‚ because you have months in an editing room to play with all the gifts you.ve been given.