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10/26[Q&A] WORLD FOCUS “The Terrible Privacy of Mr. Sim” by Dir. Michel Leclerc

“The Terrible Privacy of Mr. Sim” Q&A session took place on Oct 26, 2015
 The Terrible Privacy of Mr. Sim

©2015 TIFF

Michel Leclerc (Director)
Dir. Michel Leclerc: This is my first time being in Tokyo and I enjoyed walking around the city. Since this film hasn’t been released in France yet, I am looking forward for your opinion and comments.
Q: You have written your own script in the past but adapted the novel for this film. Can you tell us why you chose it and the reason you were attracted to it?
Dir. Michel Leclerc: It was a memorable timing when I first read this book. My co-writer, and the partner of my life, Baya Kasmi read the book first and she recommended me to read it. My parents passed away at that time and like Mr. Sim in the novel, I was in deep sorrow and was trying to recover. The film depicts the solitude in the modern world.
But I like comedies, despite of the story being a heavy subject, I thought it could be made into a comedy. That is why I decided to made it.
Q: I was able to sympathize with the character who made a wonderful performance portraying a dull and self-righteous single man. How did you choose your cast including Mathieu Amalric ?
Dir. Michel Leclerc: The actor that played the character of Mr. Sim, Jean-Pierre Bacri, is well-known and liked in France. He is an experienced actor who collaborates with his wife, Agnès Jaoui, and is very famous for his comedies. He hasn’t been in a film for two years but I like him very much and thought he was perfect for the role as sometimes he can be very aggressive and show his anger. In the middle of the film, he shows nostalgic and vulnerable side of Mr. Sim. I have never seen him being so vulnerable in any other films before. That was the reason I chose him. He did a great performance in the first ten minutes of the film, portraying the deepness within the character. .
I would also like to add something about Jean-Pierre. He has a phobia about airplanes and believe that if he flies, the person next to him will die. But this is what really happened to Jonathan Coe’s wife, the author of the novel of “The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim”.
As for Mathieu Amalric, although his role is a support cast, he has a strong impact and makes a memorable impression. He doesn’t have many scenes but whenever Samuel appears the audience know that something will happen. So we needed a big actor like him for the role.
Q: Mr. Sim isolates himself very much in the film which is similar to mental disorder. Are you trying to portray the modern world or society with these symptoms?
Dir. Michel Leclerc: I didn’t do any medical research but there is something I like about him, that is, when he is depressed and unable to understand other people’s feeling, at least he tries to connect to the outside world. When someone is depressed, he will isolate himself from the society. He has lot of monologues but is also shown trying to talk to the others as well. What I thought which is interesting is that he is depressed yet he is cheerful. He even refers his depression as a gift to the kids during Christmas. The contradiction is therefore essential and interesting in his comedic personality.
The society and the modern world that we are living in is the central theme of the film as well. The GPS navigators were used in the scene where Mr. Sim can’t get in touch with anybody and was left alone with the GPS, symbolizing that we have all the tools to connect with anyone at anytime and anywhere with SKYPE but at the same time we are lonelier. That is the contradiction in the society that we are living in right now. People think they are communicating but actually they are not. This is the contradiction I would like to emphasize as well.
Q: I am wondering about the sexuality of Mr. Sim. In the end his friend kisses him and he returns the kiss too. Is his original sexual orientation something that he already had or was it the changes in him due to the solitude or confession of his father?
Dir. Michel Leclerc: I was waiting for this question. Actually it was how the writer depicted it in the original story but when I adapted the story into the film I was wondering how it should be interpreted. His father had a secret which Mr. Sim has discovered and although his father refused to move forward, Mr. Sim didn’t want to become like his father and has rejected it.
When Mr. Sim is in the last stage of his life, he wanted to be free, free from all the duties and burdens that he had. When he encounters this person who showed interest in him, as he couldn’t get along well with woman, he started to feel “why not”. We don’t know what happens afterwards but in the end of the film we saw him accepting it, showing it as one possibility in his future.

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KEIRIN.JPThe 28th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
27th Tokyo International Film Festival(2014)