“I feel like I said everything I had to say”

Passing through Paris on the occasion of the broadcast on Canal+, from Monday January 23, of The night Laurier Gaudreault woke up, the miniseries adapted from the play of the same name (2019, published in France by Editions théâtrales in 2021) by Michel Marc Bouchard, which he wrote and directed, the Canadian director Xavier Dolan, 33, draws up a balance sheet that is both exhausted and happy with fifteen years of career in the cinema.

How did you transform the text of Michel Marc Bouchard, an author that you had already adapted in “Tom à la ferme”, in 2013?

In the summer of 2019, I saw the play and I fell in love with the text, but also with everything that I did not see on stage: the past, the characters who were only evoked… I wanted to give substance to this something that was invisible, not said on stage. The play is behind closed doors, a discussion between members of the Larouche family, who take turns arriving in an embalming room.

I never wanted, on screen, this kind of behind closed doors which, outside the theater, is less realistic. The text is built around memory, the evocation of things that have happened, that have been said, of people who have been seen, glimpsed… What they were wearing, what they were doing at such a time, at such a month of such a year… It had to materialize on the screen. Which means that Laurier Gaudreault is a text that has been 95% rewritten.

The narration space of the theater is so different from that of the screen that it was necessary to create a binder: the ellipses, the displacements, the transitions are of little importance, because the spectator’s imagination is constantly solicited, excited. This imagination is stimulated in very different ways on television and in the cinema, where fluidity and continuity between scenes and periods are expected.

Why did you choose the serial form?

The text is punctuated with important pivots that evoke the format of the series, kinds of catchphrases, cliffhangers [situations à suspense]… All that was already there. I wrote three episodes while I was filming lost illusions [2021], by Xavier Giannoli. I presented the project at that time, but it was not successful. It pissed me off a bit, and then the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, and time stood still.

“‘Laurier Gaudreault’ was an opportunity to make a thriller, the genre I love, and to shoot a series, which I had always dreamed of”

Afterwards, I saw that everyone was turning to streaming platforms, so I pulled these episodes out of the drawer. The idea was to offer Quebec streamers a series that would try to meet American standards, more ambitious than what is generally done in Quebec. Laurier Gaudreault was also an opportunity to make a thriller, the genre that I love and that I had touched with Tom at the farmand to shoot a series, which I had always dreamed of.

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