Those who have read Duras know about her particular taste for the different, the unknown and the secrecy. A descriptive style that is suggestive as well as provocative. Besides her affiliation with the communist party during the Nazi occupation in Paris, Marguerite Duras was in touch with the existentialism of Sartre and Beauvoir, a school of thought she’d finally abandon to get closer to the nouveau roman. When you go through her iconic novels, like The Lover or The Sailor of Gibraltar, you see such themes were quite a constant in her narrative style: “Duras was a complex and brilliant woman. What I like the most about her is her strength, her rhythm, and her particular way of writing, where repetition takes you to the limit, creating a sense of vertigo, an alteration, an obsession that takes you into the depths of emotions”, says the actress.
The director of the film, Emmanuel Finkiel, was the former assistant of directors Bertrand Tavernier, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Jean-Luc Godard before his debut with Voyages. In 2008, he was honoured with the Jean Vigo award for his film Nulle part, terre promise. His casting for the adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ novel includes Mélanie in the leading female role along with Benoît Magimel, Benjamin Biolay and Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet.
In this film adaptation, the perspective of Finkiel is different to other films about the post-war era, which usually focus on the soldiers’ anxiety or depression but don’t even consider the point of view of women. Mélanie explains how the director remains faithful to Dura’s personal voice, translating her memories of suffering into images through silences and languid atmospheres, but also proposing a different approach as the pain didn’t end when the war was over. Instead, it is kept alive afterwards in the hearts and minds of the families and their lost loved ones.