There remains to be a Frenchman in competition at Roland Garros! Three days after the finish of the event, tennis is taking part in further time… in the cinema. The Porte d’Auteuil stadium is the setting for “5th Set”, the new movie by Quentin Reynaud (“Paris-Willouby”) carried by the bluffing efficiency of Alex Lutz as a former genius of French tennis who tries a unlikely comeback at nearly 38 years outdated. A dive into the harsh intimacy of an athlete confronted with age, fallen hopes, sacrifices, a tough household steadiness… One of the uncommon examples of a movie succeeding in capturing with nice precision the gestures and the dramaturgy tennis. Its director, a former regional participant (he was categorized 2/6 to 16 years outdated), tells us behind the scenes.
A uncommon sport on the large display screen
Tennis has all the time struggled to burst the display screen. “It is the backdrop to a few films, such as“ Match Point ”,“ an Elephant that is a huge deception ”,“ Monsieur Hulot’s Holidays ”or“ L’Inconnu du Nord-Express ”. But there are only a few who’re in the psychology of a tennis participant, I had recognized this lack, ”slips the filmmaker.
“There is something complicated in the setting in scene, he continues, because unlike boxing, very photogenic, where we are in a clinch with the two characters in the same frame, there, they are fifteen meters from each other! Suddenly, I tried to bring them as close as possible with tight shots, staying in their shadow, their sweat, their breath, their perspiration. “
An distinctive participant
In actual life, Alex Lutz can’t play tennis. On display screen, the subterfuge is disturbing realism. The Caesarized actor skilled for 4 months, 5 hours a day, to tackle this position. But to not discover ways to do a backhand or a forehand.
“During the preparation, I asked him to become a total tennis player Between points, says the filmmaker. The way he walks on the ground, stands, the way he puts on his grip (Editor’s note: the coating of the handle of the racket), to take the balls in the hand, to wipe his face, his posture, his shoulders… It is this credibility that he brought, a very big job. He tapped the ball a bit to get closer to the feeling, but it was mostly body language, physique, muscle building. The result: a literally stunning performance.
Nice sleight of hand
In order for Thomas Edison, the character played by Alex Lutz, to play credible tennis, Quentin Reynaud used a few techniques. He relied in particular on the physical resemblance of the lining of the actor, the former 400th world player Frédéric Petitjean. The director has sometimes juggled the two on the same scene, thanks to a subtle set of cameras.
He has also used, at rare times, particularly successful special effects which allow Alex Lutz to strike several shots from the front with the fluidity of an almost Federer. The trick? “We shot a few identical scenes on a green screen with Frédéric Petitjean and Alex, and performed a face replacement. »Wow effect guaranteed. “Above all, it allows the viewer to enter into the minds of the spectator that Alex really is the player. It was out of the question that a detail not credible tenistically pollute the dramaturgy. “
Roland-Garros, a character in its own right
The “5th Set” group didn’t instantly get hold of permission from the French Tennis Federation to arrange its cameras in the legendary lair of Roland-Garros. “I had thought of different locations, in Madrid, in Belgium, and even in Mali, to recreate a event. But Roland-Garros has an evocative energy for a French participant that might not be discovered wherever else. “
The settlement of the former president of the FFT Bernard Giudicelli unblocked the scenario. “They knew that we would not do an advertisement for them, that we were going to show all aspects of the tennis profession, but they knew how to see the honesty of our project”, appreciates the director, who was in a position to make use of the quick 14 to movie Lutz / Edison matches. “It was a big pleasure, we had been actually at dwelling. Roland-Garros, abruptly, turns into a super-powerful character. The reality of evolving in these colours, this orange, this inexperienced, makes us instantly enter a mythology. »And uncover with extra realism the day by day acrimony of the kings of ocher.
EDITOR’S RATING: 3/5
“5th Set”, movie by Quentin Reynaud with Alex Lutz, Ana Girardot, Kristin Scott Thomas… 1h53.