The actor, Caesarized in 2019 for “Guy”, is showing this Wednesday, April 13, two films, “In the shadow of girls” and “Vortex”. Two films where he reveals a new facet of his personality.
Versatile actor, as comfortable on stage as on television and in the cinema, Alex Lutz is this Wednesday showing two films with very different universes, where he plays two men in the midst of an existential crisis. In In the shadow of the girls, by Etienne Comar, he is an opera singer who regains a taste for life by leading a choir in a prison. In Vortexhe embodies the helpless son of a couple gradually falling into dementia.
“I am not unhappy [qu’ils sortent le même jour]. They are both very opposite and very complementary”, analyzes for BFMTV the actor. “These are two films where the question of functioning, or family dysfunction arises. The question of filiation also arises, as well as that of mourning, of time, of what we have done correctly or not in our life.
Long accustomed to mainstream comedies (OSS 117, Turf, The Adventures of Spirou and Fantasio), Alex Lutz seems to have changed register since his César for best actor. This award gleaned for guy in 2019 landed him more dramatic roles, like 5th set (2020). The gaze of people in the profession has changed: “It made it possible to intrigue more.” It is moreover guy which prompted Gaspar Noé to offer him Vortex: “He loved the film. He liked that I knew how to improvise. It’s his way of working on his films.”
Since the success of guy, Alex Lutz receives “reasonably” proposals. “I have some, but I don’t have the mailbox that pukes out projects every five minutes.” He is also lucky to be on stage, where he is currently defending his show Alex Lutz: Triumph!and to be able to carefully choose their roles. “You don’t accept everything on the pretext of receiving several proposals.”
He was not mistaken with Vortex and In the shadow of the girls, two hypnotic films. Impossible to look away from these films, thanks to very immersive formal devices. The first uses the split screen (a process that consists of dividing the screen in two), to accentuate the slow decay of an elderly couple affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The second employs the 1:1 square format, to reinforce the confinement experienced by the characters.
“We are caught up”, confirms the actor. “The camera has something almost documentary [dans ces films]. It is now almost necessary in the cinema. We are all accompanied by small portable cameras [avec nos smartphones]. I think it infuses the grammar of the image in cinema. Take North ferry, one of the big hits of last season. There is this immersive side to it.”
Vortex, in particular, offers a dizzying dive into the end of life, which Gaspar Noé brings to life almost in real time. “Gaspar has often been criticized for being impolite with the form [du cinéma], but in fact he honors it. When the father breaks his face and breathes for hours on the ground, anyone would have taken 35 seconds. And he, no. And again, he only offers it to us for 2h20. Normally it’s one month, four months, eighteen months. That means it’s still very polished with the shape, and very elliptical.”
A fading character
With these more demanding roles, a new Alex Lutz is revealed on screen. In Vortex as in In the shadow of the girlsthis actor known for his taste for cross-dressing completely disappears behind his characters, and this without exuberance, as he had done previously in Catherine and Liliane and guy. “Guy was a much less ostentatious character than one might think,” rectifies the actor, before conceding: “But he is a bit, because it’s a composition role, that I have forty banks and that I looked like a 74-year-old guy.”
We find this tendency to erase in his way of acting and in his voice, which remains soft in the two films, even when he must get angry. “In Gaspar’s film, he is a character who fades away in front of his father. For Etienne’s film, I wanted this lyrical singer to have an almost protected voice, like an instrument he has learned to hold , even in anger or in confrontation.
Vortex and In the shadow of the girls, shot during the pandemic, allowed it to hold up during this particular period. “I did not go through the confinement with total ease. I found it complex. It questioned me about a lot of things. For the young people too. I found that it was a particularly difficult period for them. Unfair and difficult.”
Vortex and In the shadow of the girls, both of which address the question of mourning, have a cathartic value. A subject that seems to obsess Alex Lutz. His latest project, Day 37, currently in post-production, will also evoke this motif. “In times like the one we’re going through, it’s interesting to have these proposals. It’s interesting to explore what resonates with all of us right now.”