Petra is a young artist who knocks on the doors of Jaume, a consecrated creator, presumably to make an artistic stay in his workshop, but in his head round the question of whether that elusive and enigmatic man, cynical until he can not, is in actually his father. With these wickers (and many other circumstances and passions that we will not reveal) "Petra" is created, the new film by Jaime Rosales, one of our most particular filmmakers, to the point of being one of the few that has a place in the Festival of Cannes, refractory for years to Spanish cinema. The film starring Bárbara Lennie and Àlex Brendemhül (together with Marisa Paredes and debutant Joan Botey) was presented in fact at the Directors' Fortnight at the French festival. Greek tragedy set in our days, in the Baix Empordà, «Petra» talks about the function and meaning of art, the intricacies of family and blood, and that inexorable destiny that governs us above us, without anything do.
-Ensure that this film is a personal bet to win new audiences. Do you have the feeling that many will discover Rosales (a prestigious but minority filmmaker) with this film?
-That was the promise that was in the design of the film and I know it is a risk factor. We will see it because for me «Petra» is like going out very openly in search of the spectator.
-Of course, who goes looking for great passions will not leave disappointed. The film, in fact, opens with a kind of Greek choir that anticipates that what we are going to see are extreme behaviors and circumstances …
-In that search of the viewer I have authorized myself very consciously to write something openly melodramatic, folletinesco, with many twists and a bad badly inspired by Hitchcock, who said that a good movie is based on a good villain and the better it is, the movie will be more good. All these elements are arranged to hook the viewer to the plot and to be carried away by the startles.
-They are partially predictable and partly surprising turns.
– One of my great influences has been Hitchcock and Tarkovski and when I say that I have mixed them with the critics it is hard to understand. The plot of «Petra» is based on anticipating what is going to happen to the spectator and sometimes in surprise. Some anticipations have to be fulfilled and others not. Surprise is good when it is necessary, as Aristotle says. That's why I do not like Agatha Christie, because she presents characters that everyone can be the culprit in the same way and it is impossible to guess right for the viewer. Here, and in Greek tragedy, the surprise must be necessary: the spectator has to say "wow!" And at the same time "clear …".
-The structure by alternate chapters (that reminds in a certain way to «Hopscotch») helps to that same thing, but it was not a risky decision?
– «Hopscotch» is a modern novel that assumes the breakdown of order. The structure of my film is sought, there is an idea of classic cinema and at the same time a modern use of time, which is broken. The film establishes a playful game with the spectator, and also part of irony in all that.
-Despite the unleashed passions, it is a tape in which nobody raises the voice or, let's say it, pulls the hair. He has that restraint, that austerity very typical of his cinema.
-The austerity is effectively in the interpretations, where there is no emotional exaggeration, and also in the use of filmic devices, with a single lens with the same type of look, in music, that there is little and it is placed untimely .. There is a great exuberance in the script and a great austerity in the way of filming.
– Then there is his way of filming, with the "steadycam" continuously moving through the spaces, leaving the characters out of focus and, of course, applying the off-field to violence, another of his personal marks.
-The way to show violence in sex and movies is the most characteristic of the directors, how you face to teach that and from where and how: with the ellipsis, the sublimation, the show … I like it do it in an elliptical way, aim it without recreating. My films are very "voyeurs" less in sex and violence, which is something more modest.
-The villain of the tape is a reputed artist. It is one of the most interesting approaches, which dismantles the fallacy that an artist is good "per se" or that art makes us better people.
-The art does not improve from the moral point of view to an individual or a group of people. The Nazis were very cultured and they loved music, literature and painting. In addition, the biography of the creator has no relation with the quality of the work. It can be a magnificent person with a mediocre work or a pusillanimous person with an extraordinary work. The interest of the work only lies in this one. And its value is not for what it contributes to society but the artistic soliloquy offered to the individual who sees it. That is my approach.
-In fact, lately it is fashionable to review the private facet of unique artists such as Picasso or Hitchcock. There are even those who believe that their poor behaviors invalidate their works …
– I, the truth, I do not see interest to go to dig in the biography of artists as I do not see it with the political men either. We can delve into the life of Ghandi or Hitler, but in his family environment maybe Hitler was a great guy and Ghandi would put the horns on his wife. The fact is that one destroyed Europe and the other launched a wonderful movement. I do not care about their lives. In the case of art, the important thing is what happens to you when you are before "Las meninas" by Velázquez, not knowing what the artist was like.
-Petra is looking for a father, and Lucas, the son of Jaume, struggles to escape from his. In addition, the entire film is truffled by the determinism of blood and the ties that bind us despite, or not, ours.
-The subject of the family interests me a lot, it's a curious phenomenon: it protects us to the outside but internally there is a lot of conflict, either vertical (from parents to children and vice versa) or horizontal, between equals. It feeds us and gives us love, but it also hurts us. The Greek tragedy is always based on the family, even if it was of kings.
-Jaume, representative of a refined Catalan bourgeoisie, has a more than humiliating treatment towards his charnegos workers. Was this social dimension consciously in his head?
-There is something of that. But more than criticism, what I do is to be precise in the portrait, to show how the characters behave. It is curious that in all countries there are differences of social classes but in Spain it is accentuated in very humiliating behaviors. Being very Spanish and feeling lucky to be born in this country, there are things that hurt me a lot. In other places they do not recreate themselves so much in that humiliation.
-Barbara Lennie, as always, is perfect. It is the first time he works with her, unlike with Brendemhül, one of his classics.
– With Àlex I had it clear from always, but I did not know who was going to incarnate Petra. We did several tests and in the end it seemed to me that Barbara was the actress who had the best attributes for this character. It has a great interpretive solidity, it shuffles many techniques, it is strong personality and then it has a particular physical attractiveness, its beauty is very subtle, more untamed … But what most satisfies me of the actors is that they are all in the same rope , in the same interpretive tone, with that non-emphatic lightness I wanted.