Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Watch: First Trailer For ‘Effie Gray’ Starring Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Tom Sturridge & Greg Wise Watch: First Trailer For ‘Effie Gray’ Starring Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Tom Sturridge & Greg Wise Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets NSFW In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets NSFW In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics TIFF Review: 'Cake' Starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington & More TIFF Review: 'Cake' Starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington & More Watch: First Trailer For Rom-Com 'Playing It Cool' With Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Aubrey Plaza & More Watch: First Trailer For Rom-Com 'Playing It Cool' With Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan, Aubrey Plaza & More Watch: First Trailer For ‘Serena’ Starring Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper Watch: First Trailer For ‘Serena’ Starring Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' David Fincher Apparently Thinks 'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' Could Get Made David Fincher Apparently Thinks 'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' Could Get Made Fall TV Preview: Our 22 Most Anticipated Shows For The Rest Of 2014 Fall TV Preview: Our 22 Most Anticipated Shows For The Rest Of 2014 The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Berlin Interview: Juliette Binoche On 'Camille Claudel' & Working With Haneke, Minghella, Carax & Kiarostami

The Playlist By Jessica Kiang | The Playlist February 20, 2013 at 4:47PM

Like most of director Bruno Dumont’s films, “Camille Claudel 1915” has proven divisive (you can read our take here), but one thing that critics on both sides of the fence are in unanimous agreement about is the quality of the central performance from Juliette Binoche. Economically contained and internalised, even when her Claudel is displaying some rare histrionics, Binoche invests the role with oceanic depths and undercurrents of conflicting emotion in a turn that in some ways can almost be seen as the stripped-away template for the kind of melancholic, tragic, tortured heroine with which she has made her name.
1
Juliette Binoche berlin

Like most of director Bruno Dumont’s films, “Camille Claudel 1915” has proven divisive (you can read our take here), but one thing that critics on both sides of the fence are in unanimous agreement about is the quality of the central performance from Juliette Binoche. Economically contained and internalised, even when her Claudel is displaying some rare histrionics, Binoche invests the role with oceanic depths and undercurrents of conflicting emotion in a turn that in some ways can almost be seen as the stripped-away template for the kind of melancholic, tragic, tortured heroine with which she has made her name.

During an enjoyable and intimate (no seriously -- we were alone in a bedroom) interview with Binoche at the Berlin International Film Festival last week, we got to talk about her approach to this role, her sometimes friction-y relationships with the various auteur directors she has worked with (often more than once), and her aforementioned tragic air, which was borne out by the seriousness with which she answered our questions, and then regularly belied by frequent peals of totally infectious and uninhibited laughter, usually directed at herself.

Binoche Claudel
“Camille Claudel 1915” feels resolutely anti-dramatic. Is it a film mostly about absence of love, of creativity, of companionship?
I would say "abnegation." [Claudel had] been put on the outside of society, and the outside of her family, and on the outside of herself, of her possible creativity. They wanted her to be creative but she refused it, it would have meant accepting her situation which she never accepted to the end of her life. But it puts her in a situation where she’s not herself… And when you push so much into a corner of yourself you have to find what’s inside in order to survive. I think her spiritual life probably opened up at that time.

Her brother wrote that he went to see her two weeks before she died and he saw the happiest expression on her face as if she had reached some sort of bliss before going. So you think, "Wow! Life has taken everything away from her and she has been to the nothingness of her being, the poorest, the coldest, the most unjust thing that ever happened and she was able to find a way of surviving." And that is fascinating.

Camille Claudel 1915 Hospital
Did the challenge of portraying someone so passionate, but so oppressed attract you to the role?
Actually I didn’t even question the role, I just knew I wanted to work with Dumont. Because to me he is the most talented director in France. And I have nostalgia for Tarkovsky and Dreyer and because I cannot shoot with them, I’m gonna "invent" a Dreyer relationship! [And there is] that melancholia I have, and Dumont is closest, in a way, to that world.

And so when he had the idea of 'Camille Claudel' I was thrilled because I had already plugged in some sort of relationship with her -- I was taken by her passion and also touched by what she had to go through… Of course dealing with insanity it was a big question to me because as a teenager I experienced going to psychiatric hospitals because one member of my family had been through these places. So I kind of knew the surroundings, but at the same time playing it was a different story, and I was scared. So that’s why I said... "I want to have a coach because this is a scary area and if I have to go there, I want to come back."

[Dumont] didn’t take it nicely at first, he said “You don’t trust me to direct, I know how to direct” and I said “It’s not about that. You have to trust me also as an actor, and if you don’t want to give me the script, I have to trust you... but it’s half/half -- it can’t just be one way.”

Dumont refused to give you the script in advance?
He said, “You don’t read the script.” But then I was trying to extract from him some information about the story. And we had kind of regular lunches and dinners, and I said give me at least -- I know it’s three days of her life -- but what’s happening day one, day two. And he started telling me, and I was so happy we were in a restaurant that had paper napkins so I could write down everything he was saying as quickly as possible “Slow down, slow down!”

This article is related to: Juliette Binoche, Bruno Dumont, Camille Claudel 1915 (film), Berlin International Film Festival, Interview


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates