Produced by Cyril Colbeau-Justin and Jean-Baptiste Dupont, Point Blank stars Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Gerard Lanvin and Elena Anaya. Lellouche plays Samuel, a nurse working at a hospital when his pregnant wife (Anaya) is kidnapped before his very eyes. Knocked unconscious, he comes to and discovers that a dangerous criminal named Sartet (Zem) is responsible, and if he’s ever to see his wife again, he must do Sartet’s bidding. Samuel quickly finds himself pitted against rival gangsters and trigger-happy police in a deadly race to save the lives of his wife and unborn child.
The following is CWB’s interview with Fred Cavaye director of Point Blank.
Bijan Tehrani: In making All for Her and particularly Point Blank, you have introduced a new style of thriller. Is it because your films focus more on real life than other thrillers do?
Fred Cavaye: Actually, even though I don’t think I’ve invented a new style, I am more oriented towards “real life” when I write.
What I am interested in is making thrillers with a human dimension, and the common point between these two films, is that the hero is an “ordinary guy”. This is a perfect system for involving the viewer, who finds it easier to identify with this “ordinary guy” than with James Bond. The goal is to make the viewer feel the maximum emotion, both in the action scenes and in the scenes of emotion. The fact that the hero is close to the viewer is a real plus.
BT: What made you want to make Point Blank?
FC: The starting point was that I was very pleasantly surprised by the audience reaction to All for Her. People were saying that they physically experienced the last half hour of the film. They were glued to their seats. I wanted to do the same thing for ninety minutes. To make it so that the protagonist had no other choice but to immediately move into action mode: he is confronted with the urgency of saving the woman he loves. I wanted to make an interactive film, make it so that the viewer runs with the protagonist, at the same time. I wanted to make an entertaining film, one that gives the viewer a maximum of emotion.
BT: Was it your training as a photographer that enabled you to create the visually striking and effective style you use in your films?
FC: Yes, it’s part of a whole. I am very sensitive to light and to framing. Also, for me, cinema is telling stories using images more than dialogue. The formal aspect of the image is very important. That is why I work with a DP who himself started out as a photographer.
BT: Point Blank is a film with many layers in both its story and its concept, which provides viewers with the opportunity to discover the many facets of the characters with each reviewing of the film. This gives depth to the film. Was it intentional?
FC: It’s always interesting to let the viewer be one step ahead of the story, and to play with this while throwing him completely off, by heading in a direction completely opposite the one in which he thinks it is going to go. For example, it is always interesting when the characters do not define themselves in exactly the way we would have expected them to.
BT: Point Blank is an exciting thriller but it is a film that does not use either unrealistic characters or artificial situations to tell its story. Was it difficult to make a film based on real characters and situations?
FC: It’s difficult because the viewer, unlike with a classic thriller, has a hard time accepting purely cinematographic situations: although the starting point is very realistic, the viewer is going to be completely unsettled if we lead him through purely cinematographic situations. It will be much less easy for him to accept the classic thriller situations, and there is a “novelistic” limit that must not be exceeded. But the starting points, even realistic ones, remain cinema starting points, cinema situations.
BT: The film’s casting is excellent. It is hard to imagine other actors in these roles. What was the casting process like?
FC: First I offered the role of the nurse to Roschdy Zem, but I quickly realized that this was a mistake, Also, Roschdy preferred to play the role of the gangster. He was right, because he is the ideal actor to portray a multitude of emotions without needing dialogue.
As for Gilles Lellouchee, I immediately thought of him, because he can play an “ordinary guy” while remaining believable in the physical scenes. Also he has immediate empathy, and very great charisma, which was absolutely necessary, given the very few scenes of exposition in which to introduce his character.
As for Elena Anaya and the role of Nadia, like Gilles, it required an actor capable of showing a multitude of emotions in very few shots, and Elena has this talent.
BT: Did you rehearse a lot with the actors before shooting?
FC: No, I never do rehearsals. I work around the text, and I bring in the actors in the last phase of writing each character. When I create a character, once the actor is chosen, I tailor the role to him or to her. A character played by Gilles Lellouche would be very different played by another actor.
Before the shooting starts, we do readings, and I then rework the characters based on these discussions with the actors.
BT: Are you working on new projects?
FC: Yes. I am working on a new thriller, which does not put an “ordinary guy” center stage, but focuses instead on police officers and on the theme of redemption.