Catherine Deneuve, director Pierre Salvadori and actor Gustave de Kervern in Berlin for Dans La Cour. Photo by Brian Brooks
Catherine Deneuve has maintained a brisk pace in making films. More recently she has starred in On My Way, which will open the upcoming Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series as well as in Pierre Salvadori's Dans La Cour (The Courtyard), which is screening here at the Berlin International Film Festival. She also has the upcoming Three Hearts and L'home sue l'on aimait trop on the docket.
"When I make a film and it's chosen by the Berlinale, I'm always honored and delighted," Deneuve said Tuesday evening in the German capital.
Dans La Cour is set in a lower middle class tenement in Paris. At its nucleus is a courtyard and its parade of quirky inhabitants who reveal their fears and desires. A recent hire as the new maintenance man at the building, Antoine (Gustave de Kervern) meets the residence. Among them are a drug-dealing bicycle thief who fills the courtyard with his bikes and his neighbor with is an obsessive-compulsive disorder who insists on cleanliness.
Mathilde (Deneuve), meanwhile, lives with her husband on the top floor. She is a recent retiree and trying to figure out her daily routine. The two connect, with Antoine finding a soul mate in the insecure woman. Unknown to the tenants, Antoine's life is also in flux. He is an accomplished musician who abruptly left the stage mid-performance.
"Pierre's movie is seen through a working class neighborhood," noted Deneuve. "I live in the 16th arrondissement in Paris and I can't imagine this kind of interaction happening there. There's love and hatred with pronounced emotions. The Courtyard [as depicted in this film] creates an intimacy whether you like it or not."
Emotion is at the heart of the story which mostly unfolds within the the apartment. "What's important for me is to not look at their circumstances, but to focus on their emotion," said filmmaker Pierre Salvadori at the festival. "Gustave has given up his music and Mathilde is wrapped up in life and suddenly has to overcome [a challenge]. She has to figure out how to come back to the world."
The building's inhabitants are a micro-society of perhaps unfulfilled dreams or people who encountered a roadblock to their destiny. "It's a bit like a fairytale in a way," said Salvadori. "It's someone who withdraws from the world and comes back again."