Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, May 6th, 2014

Fanny Ardant discusses her new film Bright Days Ahead

Bright Days Ahead posterIn Bright Days Ahead, Fanny Ardant plays retiree Caroline who at the surface has a new life of freedom and opportunity before her: time to take care of her children, her husband, and most of all, to finally take care of herself. But while her peers at the local seniors’ club pass the time with ceramics and amateur theater, she finds a new hobby of her own between the sheets with the center’s computer teacher Julien (Laurent Lafitte, Little White Lies), a carefree ladies man decades her junior. The couple set rules for their affair, but Caroline seems to like courting danger, taking her lover to places she knows they might be seen and telling lies to her husband (Patrick Chesnais, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) that could easily be discovered. As Caroline finds herself in the midst of a second youth – taking a new lover, living new experiences, breaking the rules, not doing what’s expected of her – will her retirement mark the beginning of the end for her marriage, or a new beginning? The film recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Her beauty is so staggering; it’s hard to concentrate on what I want to ask her. You can tell she’s a deep thinker and has no time for nonsense. At the age of 65, she’s made over 50 films, married some interesting men and had three daughters.

What attracted you to this part?

I loved the character! I prefer to be lost in a part. Not always trying to be clever. In terms of picking the work, I like to work with something that brings pleasure. I have to trust the director. As soon as I met this director I felt well with her. I loved that she was precise and frank. And with the seaside scenery where the movie is set it made the script a little bit sexy (she whistles).

Your acting here is very understated but powerful in terms of how you handle both your marriage and your affair with a much younger man. How does one do that?

My character does not fall down on clichés about the older woman. This character was interesting. Ok, she loved her husband and she loves her family so she’s not a distraught woman. She does not really need anything. She does not need sex, so it’s for that reason alone this affair works. So that is how her life is going along in a very light way. So she meets this man much younger than her. So my character does not fall down on a cliché. This woman is very clever and so at ease with who she is. That’s why it works.

This happens more often than not I suppose. The older more interesting woman with the younger man?

This is a great fantasy for them together. A very young man with a much older woman. This is just them not bringing their families into it, this is just for right now. There is some pain along the way. But even pain belongs to life.

So you felt this was ok for her to do? The French are more understanding of affairs I think!

For me this movie, the meaning, well it gives me desire to live. She knows with the new man she shares her experiences in life not only with the new things but the old things that happened. This lover she loves but she loves her husband also. So this lover is not because of pity, she almost does not care.

So how does one prepare for this?

As far as preparing… well I had this great director and the script to read so there was not much more to understand. I knew the character. The director worked with the writer of the book the movie is based on where the idea came from. So, boom the work was done by them, and then I had to step in as the actor. Here’s why I do not like discussing everything. I prefer to think of doves… and the sky sometimes. There is darkness and sometimes beautiful skies. Trust is difficult to explain.

So describe this woman to me and what makes her tick?

In my mind my character was always in love with her husband. There was always an electric relationship between them. You find out that this is not the first time she had taken a lover… maybe he did too… They cut out some of the clauses in their marital contract. She might not have done this ten years earlier in her life. They maintained a sense of humour, had grandkids, and it’s the glue that binds her.

You must get tired of questions about Truffaut?

What about Truffaut.!.. Well that’s a strange question. I do not know how to talk about directors. I call them specialists of cinema. I am not an authority on cinema. I go to the cinema and I am an actress. Some movies I love, some I do not. I do not know about this question about directors. This question why…..? Do we ask that also about just being a human being? This why! As actors we love but we do not know why?

You are an avid reader. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Aside from Russian Novelists, I like American writers best. French Literature is not so good at the moment. I just read Goldfish by Donna Tartt, I like Joan Didion and Jay McInerny. What I prefer in America is your literature. For me, the greatest writers came from America. You have your Raymond Carver. I don’t agree with everything about America. But I must say your writers are the best.

Bright Days Ahead is in select theater nationwide and available to watch VOD at Tribeca Film.

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Fanny Ardant discusses her new film Bright Days Ahead