An Interview with Chloé Inguenaud (Director)
A Gaze Exploring the Everyday
Q: There’s a particular beauty in the way you use wide-angle still shots to present the repetition of daily routines like housework.
CI: We never thought of filming in any other way than using accumulated static shots. We wanted the space to become, in a sense, like another character in the film, with a presence on par with the women themselves. Repeated daily motions may be functional and practical, but for us they went beyond those qualities and felt meditative. The movements became a mirror reflecting the self—a way to look at and think about the self. The unconscious repetition of motions gradually began to carry a devotional sensation, and the space where it takes place became a holy place similar to a temple or church. With the refrain of ordinary movements, the routine came to embody a sense of transcendentalism.
Q: You are telling the story basically through long shots. Where did you decide to place the occasional close-ups?
CI: This is a film about family, but we never wanted it to be a film about all families, or a totality of families.
The family for us is a group of independent individuals; therefore we wanted each and every person to be presented differently from others. Although in terms of actual space, it is not easy for five women living together to find a place to be physical separate from others, it’s possible to maintain a psychological solitude. The women manage to create bubbles of space around each self. That was what we hoped to convey through the filming.
Q: We see the grandfather in bed occasionally in the frame, but in a way that we cannot decipher his emotions. None of the women of the house say anything about him. What was your intention in showing his presence?
CI: He was confined to his bed due to a progressing illness which gradually worsened. It was not our intention to present each stage of his deterioration. But when the ever-present bed disappears from the room and we understand that he has passed away, there’s a recognition that he had been some kind of a heavy stone that overshadowed the household. After his death, we see Patrizia as she gets her teeth fixed, changes her hairstyle, and embarks upon a new life.
Q: The characters seemed to appear very natural, as if the camera did not exist. What was the relationship you had with them?
CI: This film took six years to shoot. We spend a lot of time together, even when the camera was not rolling. We shared a love and trust that was built over time.
In fact since five people were living within the confines of a very limited space, we often managed to get by only by ignoring or distancing each other at times, even when we were in close physical proximity. My co-director Gaspar says it like this: “In a sense we were their youngest siblings and they just considered us to be babies of the family, playing with cameras in the corner of the room.”
You may have noticed that though this film is about the everyday, there is no scene where people are eating food. That’s because at every mealtime, Patrizia would bring a steaming pot in front of the camera, urging us to eat together. We were never able to film. You can see how sacred meals are for Italian mothers.
(Compiled by Miyata Mariko)
Interviewers: Miyata Mariko, Yamane Hiroyuki / Interpreter: Fujiwara Toshi / Translator: Fujioka Asako
Photography: Inagaki Haruka / Video: Fukushima Nana / 2015-10-12