How did the Frankie adventure start?
During the last 5 years, I’ve been closer to illness and death than any time in my life. My grandmother died, and I also lost two very dear friends, both women, to cancer. What struck me in my proximity to all three, and to their passing, was how different the experience was to what I had expected. There were very sad moments, of course, but there were also very funny moments, and very mundane ones as well. It was that strong contrast that I found so surprising, and so powerful. Frankie came from those experiences.
What about the choice of Isabelle Huppert?
I’ve admired Isabelle since I first saw her in Pialat’s Loulou, in the mid-80s. When I met Isabelle, what struck me was that she’s even more extraordinary in person than in the movies. She’s warmer and lighter, and so nimble intellectually and emotionally. I wanted more of that in Frankie, which means a less guarded performance. And Isabelle, as always, was up to the challenge, giving us a new kind of intimacy with someone we thought we knew well.
Why did you choose the beautiful setting of Sintra in Portugal?
It was suggested by my co-writer, Mauricio Zacharias (co-writer of the fourth Ira Sachs script). His maternal grandparents were Portuguese, and knowing we wanted to write a film about a family on a vacation, he suggested Sintra. Then I remembered I had been there on a family vacation in 1979, when I was 14: the same age as Maya in the film. Before we started writing, Mauricio and I spent some time in the area, and we discovered not only the beauty of the place, but also a series of particular locations where we knew we could set our film.