TIFF 2017: The Director And Star Of Revenge Tell Us What It Was Like To Shoot In A Sea Of Blood
Director Coralie Fargeat’s first feature film is sweaty, sexy, and drenched in blood. Revenge, which had its world premiere at TIFF this week (you can check out our review here), starts off by introducing the audience to Jen, the Lolita-esque plaything of an older rich guy who’s cheating on his wife. The couple are embarking on a clandestine weekend in the desert when they’re interrupted by rich dude’s hunting buddies, who’ve shown up a day early. Soon, Jen finds herself in their crosshairs and is faced with a choice: shut up and take their hush money or stand up to them… and make them pay in other, bloodier ways.
Director Coralie Fargeat and actor Matilda Lutz talked to us about making a new kind of revenge movie.
When your character went through that very visceral change on screen, emerging from the cave looking and acting different and projecting this new energy and resolve, did the way you felt about her also change?
Matilda Lutz: Yes, all the sexy, kind of Lolita shots were shot at the beginning, during the first two weeks of shooting. I did feel a big transformation. I myself am not very out there—I don’t dress sexy, I’m very shy sometimes, and I was very concerned about what people thought of me and how they would look at me if I was wearing something showy. We were shooting in Morocco with basically an all-male crew and it’s a different culture, so it was scary at the beginning. I was always in a bikini or shooting nude scenes and I saw men looking at me. I was embarrassed. [But] as we kept shooting I felt so confident, I didn’t care anymore and also, I felt like they [the crew] were looking at me differently, men started respecting me more. I respected myself and they respected me.
Matilda mentioned that you filmed the movie in Morocco, in the desert. It has a similar feel to films like Mad Max and Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch, with the extreme climate heightening the fear and suspense in the movie. Why did you choose a desert setting?
Coralie Fargeat: I chose the desert because it was very symbolic of the trajectory of the character getting wilder and wilder, more and more animal. The location also was evolving with the craziness of the characters. So as the characters become more violent and crazy, they go deeper and deeper into the desert. That’s something that inspired me—the locations were saying something about the state of mind of the characters. I love Mad Max for the aesthetics, it takes you somewhere else. I love to create a specific atmosphere and a specific world that’s different with each film.
One particular scene I wanted to ask you about was the scene inside the house with all that blood. You’re basically running around on a fake blood slip ‘n slide in the heat. It must have been so slippery and sticky at the same time. What was that like for the two of you?
ML: We were being really careful because when we were shooting that scene, especially with all the running, even though they were cleaning, there was so much blood. It was super sticky.
CF: It was insane. Nobody could move.
ML: I couldn’t touch anything because everything would stick to me. I couldn’t sit down. My arms would stick to my body, the gun would stick to my hand. It was funny… The special effects guys thought they were finished with the blood and needed to ship more from France!
CF: It was three days of shooting. It was my favourite part. Nobody was expecting that there would be so much blood on set and nobody was expecting that it would be that slippery and so complicated to shoot. It became something crazy that really helped the scene.
How do you decide on an aesthetic when it comes to showing that kind of violence? Some of the gory scenes in the movie are almost cartoonish, and others are very realistic, like the one character who pulls the glass out of his foot. How do you choose which scene will fit into which category?
CF: From the moment I’m writing the script, because I really write with images in my head, I knew which moments I wanted to be very realistic with the flesh and the blood and those sensations of “Augh!” and the ones that would be more playful in a way. I love Tarantino’s violence, which is very playful and very aesthetic and there’s great cinematography in it. I loved the work on all the prosthetics. The wounds were a very important part of the movie, like the ants, like the spiders—everything that can make us feel weak or bizarre. The obsessive stuff, like the glass stuff, is a reflection of the craziness of the character, his obsession to “win” against this piece of glass in his foot… I love genre film for the very simple story that’s able to make you feel crazy stuff.