The Edge: Interview with the director Geraldine Bajard
The Edge is a title and concept which fit the different axes of the film perfectly. We are on the edge of a territory, age, gender, genre.
On the primary level, the film's title relates to a geographic place, the film's location. The film is located at a residential area under construction, that inhabits more and more of the natural terrain. The new town starts to change the territory. I wanted to place the story where people close themselves in and therefore archetypical behaviors emerge. Such places exist and they are based on relatively fixed models, based on a logic of repetitiveness. Such places are not only fenced off, they also limit the field of vision. There, I think, a fundamental question arises: what is the meaning of a closed society, on the human level and on the level of relations between men and women?
The Edge makes us think of the term “borderline” too, which relates to pathology.
The edge can indeed lead to a state of near madness. In fact, this is what happens to the main character, which first disconnects himself from his desires and in the end from himself.
Is the passage from adolescence to adulthood connected to the edge as well?
From the scriptwriting stage it was important for me to create a spiral movement, so that the film will be constructed as a loop, returning to the same motives. I also wanted to combine this movement with oscillation between adulthood and adolescence, and to create a sort of a thin line that bridges between the two, in the characters' psychology and in a game of perspectives. This porosity between the ages, the thin connection between Cédric and François in which both are two sides of the same entity, enabled me to change my point of view constantly. This influenced the casting as well: when I saw Phénix Brossard (Cédric), a connection to Melvil Poupaud (Francois) was formed immediately, even though they share no physical resemblance. As if Phénix was a young Melvil, and so I could play with the time lines.
What was the inspiration for the script?
Originally a novel by Yukio Mishima, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. The inspiration for the constitution of a group was the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding. At the time when I re-read Mishima, many articles in the French and German press stigmatized adolescence and its violence based on marginal news items. But there was always a need to find an explanation in the social environment where these youngsters grew up. The connection to the body, self-definition in relation to a group, creation of rituals, I think all of these are inseparable parts of the development of any adolescent, regardless of their environment. At this age there is an attempt to create a social body miniature in order to successfully pass through all stages till adulthood. It can be done through imitation of the adult, rejection of the adult, or self-rejection. When expressing this, I did not want to fall info cliches such as Gothic practices. This is where those games come from, the way they regroup, like in a Rugby-men fight.
The fantastical is never far away. Watching the film, one thinks a lot of Village of the Damned.
It is a clear and deliberate reference, like The Wicker Man, an English film from the beginning of the 1970s. I love the fantastic cinema of the 1950s and 60s, which contains an essence that allows to understand a specific moment in evolution. In this sense, I think that the first version of Village of the Damned, the Wolf Rilla one, is amazing. We watched this film a lot together with the adolescents, focusing on the gaze of the children.
It seems that sex is constantly present in Bauval, in the adolescents as well as in the adults, but only in its fantastical side: there is a game of codes of seduction, but never a passage to the act.
One of the main motives in the film is desire. I wanted to watch its birth: the scene of Cédric and Claire in the beginning of the film is significant. This is where the origin of his feelings for Claire is. This is thus the moment of the emotion of falling in love – or in the case of Jeanne (Audrey Marnay) and François, its disappearing. I tried to encompass the motive: the tension between two people, the looks, the gestures, the game in space. It is almost as if we have had an affair instead of a duel. In the film, seduction itself is the limit, the threshold that cannot be passed; and it is also a force capable of controlling and regulating behaviors. The editing contributes to this tension and has a highly important role here. We tried to create fractures to support the moments of tension created by desire.
François is perceived as absent in the world.
I wanted to throw a character into an environment utterly strange to him. A certain code rules the area and sets the behavior of the inhabitants. I chose the profession of medical doctor for François since in order to work in this profession one needs to keep a distance from the patient's pain, even when listening to it permanently. But François was already in the process of self-detachment, even before arriving to Bauval. The worst thing that could happen to him was this job, though he thought it would be productive for his life project. In a world dominated by the arbitrary and the violent, someone who follows the principle of compassion and empathy can only stumble. Hence the choice of Melvil Poupaud to play François; he is an actor subtle enough to be able to play the ambiguity, so that the audience feel the character weakens constantly, without it being too obvious. We also discussed Teorema of Pasolini a lot, which was an important reference for building the character. Except that François is the opposite of the angel played by Terence Stamp, as he is the one suffering pain caused by the community.