FRENCHLY: Director Cédric Klapisch on Dance, Cinema, and Coming Back to Life in His New Film, ‘Rise’
June 1, 2023
Director Cédric Klapisch is passionate about dance. He fell in love with contemporary ballet as a teenager and first filmed a dancer in action while in film school at New York University in the 80’s. Many of the movies he’s best known for, including his beloved Spanish Apartment Trilogy—L’Auberge Espagnole, Russian Dolls, Chinese Puzzle—feature people ripping it up on the dance floor, and a character in Russian Dolls is a classical ballet dancer. Directing her performance scenes at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg expanded Klapisch’s passion to include classical dance, and he went on to direct a documentary, L’espace d’un instant, about the French ballet dancer Aurélie Dupont. Over the pandemic, he created Dire Merci, editing a compilation of videos that dancers from the Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris had shot on their phones during lockdown as a message of hope and support. When the film went viral, Klapisch knew it was time to make the narrative film about dance he’d always wanted to make.
The result is Rise (En Corps) starring Marion Barbeau, first dancer at Paris Opéra ballet who’d never acted before, as Elise, a dancer who dramatically and publicly injures herself onstage minutes after finding out her boyfriend is cheating on her. Told she might never dance again, Elise embraces the challenge of finding another occupation that could give her as much joy as dance. While assisting a chef at an artist retreat in Brittany, run by the daffy, lovable Josiane (Muriel Robin), a modern dance troupe led by choreographer Hofesh Shechter (playing himself) shows up, offering Elise the opportunity to push herself in new ways. As she struggles to heal, Elise clashes with her father (Denis Podalydès), who thinks she should have been a lawyer, gets massaged by an adorably dopey and strangely wise physical therapist, Yann (François Civil, also starring in Klapisch’s 2019 film, Someone Somewhere), and otherwise connects with a host of other lively characters with big, often beautiful, opinions about her prospects.
I had the great fortune to speak with the charming and soulful Monsieur Klapisch about the upside of professional dance, casting non-actors, daring to reach for the stars, and what he learned about life and the movies from The Lion King.