Rise director Cédric Klapisch with Anne-Katrin Titze on seeing dance at 14: “My parents brought me … It was the time of Merce Cunningham, Carolyn Carlson - they were the hit dancers in the Seventies.”

Classical ballet dancer Elise (Marion Barbeau) in Cédric Klapisch’s riveting and dynamic Rise (co-written with Santiago Amigorena) suffers an ankle injury during a performance of La Bayadère right after having spotted her boyfriend and dance partner with another woman. With her future unclear on all fronts, Elise rises out of the ashes with the support of a number of illustrious characters in her life. Choreographer Hofesh Shechter (and Rise composer with Thomas Bangalter) playing a version of himself makes very clear that dance can have many forms. There is physiotherapist Yann (François Civil) who is overcoming his own heartbreak, and friend Sabrina (Souheila Yacoub) who also had to transition out of the field of dance. She now works with her boyfriend Loïc (Pio Marmaï), a chef, who invites both Sabrina and Elise to assist him in a catering job for an artist resort in Brittany, led by Josiane (Muriel Robin). Josiane, a great patron of all arts, bonds right away with Elise, not only because both of them are currently limping ducks.

Rather unhelpful in the recovery is Elise’s father, lawyer Henri Gautier (played by Denis Podalydès, who carries over from Arnaud Desplechin’s Deception some of Philip Roth’s self-centeredness and intense focus on the written word). Henri, a widower since Elise and her two sisters were children, has clear hierarchies of importance at all times. He is similarly dismissive about dance as he is about cooking. His comments are hovering perpetually at the border of insult, which makes them all the more infuriating. A spectacular dance sequence begins the movie and throughout there are numerous treats. The rhythm and the ratio of dance and drama stay perfectly in tune. Rise received nine César Award nominations, as did Albert Serra’s Pacifiction, bested only by the ten for The Night Of The 12th, directed by Dominik Moll.

From Paris, Cédric Klapisch joined me on Zoom for an in-depth conversation on Rise.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Very nice to meet you! The beginning of your film is spectacular! It shows how much you love dance. Did you always know that this was to be a beginning without words?

Cédric Klapisch: I had the intuition of that very early but I didn’t know how much the audience could handle that. So I didn’t know if it would be three minutes, five minutes - it finally is 15 minutes. I didn’t know it would be that long. I really enjoyed the challenge of starting the story showing only dance and the audience has to watch dance and hear the music and understand what the story is without words. It was great to go back to silent movies really. It’s not silent because you have a relationship to music, but I asked myself: how can I tell a story without dialogues?

AKT: Do you remember the very first ballet performance you saw?

CK: No, actually. The early shows I went to see, I guess I was 14, and I guess it was Carolyn Carlson in Théâtre de la Ville which is a theatre in Paris which shows a lot of contemporary dance. My parents brought me there and after a while we had a subscription. Every year we saw a lot of dance shows, especially with my mother. It was the time of Merce Cunningham, Carolyn Carlson - they were the hit dancers in the Seventies.

Read the full interview here!