Une nuit (Strangers by Night), as seen by Alex Lutz
This is the first time that Alex Lutz has presented a film in the Official Selection as a director. Two years ago, the French actor, screenwriter, and director was part of the cast of Vortex, by Gaspard Noé, presented in Cannes Première. With Une nuit (Strangers by Night), selected in Un Certain Regard, he tells the story of the ephemeral, all-consuming passion of two strangers, himself and Karin Viard, in the streets of Paris.
How did the idea of Une nuit (Strangers by Night) come to you?
A few years ago on the Métro, I saw a woman shove a man while pushing herself onto the train, which started a loud argument between them. Their arguments possessed charm and intelligence, as if they knew they were being observed. You could sense a sort of attraction between the two as they insulted each other.
When I got home, I wrote a few lines down as I tried to transcribe the scene that had unfolded before me. Then, through the use of an ellipsis, I had these two people make love in a photo booth. I liked the idea of a prolonged verbal jousting match by this impromptu couple as they wandered around at night.
What was the atmosphere like on set?
We almost never filmed during the day, which was weird. Night is a different time, with no cell phones ringing, no signs of daily office life; it has another heartbeat.
We really wanted to shoot it in a short amount of time, to create a film while taking risks. I wanted the urgency to be palpable on-screen; time is tragically short for the female character, so it had to be the same for us too.
Can you tell us a little bit about your actors?
The heroine just had to be played by Karin Viard, I wouldn’t have made this film without her. Karin is a friend. We don’t see each other every day, but when we are together, we are immediately honest with each other, like our characters. We know and understand each other, and we don’t mess around; this is another reason why we wanted to do this project together.
The film is also graced by the presence of Jérôme Pouly of the Comédie Française, who is always amazing, and Noémie de Lattre, a close friend whose work I love, and who is always seeking out the artistic in everything she does.
What would you like people to take away from this film?
I would like them to see my film as an ode to love, even though love is not simple and obvious, but quite the opposite; you get hurt, you stumble, you start again. It’s work, it’s a process, it’s the desire to provide love to each other. Being a couple is above all a human experience. It’s a work in progress constantly being threatened, and this is what makes it so exciting and beautiful.
What made you want to become a director?
I’ve always liked telling stories, and becoming a film director was the logical continuation of what I had been doing for years in the theatre, where I have always written, acted, and directed There’s also my love for actors, my desire to make them act.