Actor Gilles Lellouche Talks Joy Of Directing As François Civil & Adèle Excarchopoulos Picture ‘Beating Hearts’ Hits Cannes: “The Older I Get, The More I Love To Direct”

Actor Gilles Lellouche Talks Joy Of Directing As François Civil & Adèle Excarchopoulos Picture ‘Beating Hearts’ Hits Cannes: “The Older I Get, The More I Love To Direct”

Gilles Lellouche arrived at the Cannes press conference for his Competition title Beating Hearts (L’amour Ouf) on Friday with one of the biggest cast delegations of the festival as its 77th edition entered its final strait.

As well as being joined on the stage by co-stars François Civil and Adèle Exarchopoulos and newcomers Mallory Wanecque and Malik Frikah, actors Jean-Pascal Zadi, Elodie Bouchez, Raphaël Quenard, Vincent Lacoste, Alain Chabat, Karim Leklou and Antony Bajon took up the front row of the press room.

They arrived on the wave of an enthusiastic response from the audience at Thursday night’s world premiere in the Grand Théâtre Lumière, which gave it a 15-minute standing ovation.

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The modern Romeo and Juliet tale, which took Lellouche 17 years to bring to the big screen, is the actor and director’s third feature after hit comedy Sink or Swim.

“I take great, great pleasure from directing. The older I get, the more I love to direct,” said Lellouche, who has close to 80 acting credits to his name.

“You’re there for the whole process and it nourishes me intellectually… and when you’re a director, whether it ends up being a good or a bad film, it’s based on your choices for which you take responsibility.”

“When you’re an actor, there are lots of things that come into play, that can sometimes make for disappointing experiences that are not as beautiful as you had envisaged… and big, big, big screenplays, they’re not in abundance.”

Civil, who featured as D’Artagnan in last year’s Three Musketeers reboot, and Blue is the Warmest Color actress Exarchopoulos play former childhood sweethearts from different sides of the tracks.

Having gone their separate ways when the boy gets caught up in gang violence and lands in jail on trumped-up murder charges, the couple reconnect against the odds years later.

Quizzed on Lellouche’s directorial style Exarchopoulos replied: “I don’t know what influence the fact you act has on directing… I’ve never really analyzed it in all honesty, but what I do know is that Gilles is an extremely precise, reassuring, committed director. There’s a sense he is the captain and you feel it straightaway.

“The screenplay held immense promise, which was kept and that’s sometimes rare… this film resembles him… it has this urgency, love and generosity which we all felt on set.”

Civil recounted how he had first worked with Lellouche as a member of lead cast on Marseille-set corrupt cop drama The Stronghold, alongside Leklou.

“I loved shooting that film and meeting Gilles, as an actor. I had already been impressed by his drive as an actor… then arriving on his set, I was blown away by his talent, his mise en scene, and the energy that he transmitted to everyone.”

Burning Hearts is adapted from Irish writer Neville Thompson’s 1997 novel Jackie Loves Johnser OK?  which unfolded against the backdrop of Dublin’s tough suburb of Ballyfermot in the 1980s.

Lellouche has transposed the story to Northern France, co-writing the screenplay with Ahmed Hamidi, his collaborator on Sink Or Swim, and Venice Golden Lion winner Audrey Diwan.