Madrid (EFE).- Rebeca Zlotowski (Paris, 1980) explores the desire for late motherhood and the role of “stepmother” in “Los hijos de otros”. The film, which arrives in Spanish theaters this Friday, proposes a review of the roles in the modern family, as explained to Efe by its director.
“The modern family is a place to review our roles, there is an extraordinary terrain for fiction there and I think that the cinema is a bit behind when talking about it with respect to real life”, the filmmaker has assured.
Starring Virginie Efira and Rochsdy Zem, this is his fifth feature and was initially going to be an adaptation of a Romain Gary novel about male impotence, but during the process Zlotowski decided to take it on a more personal ground.
“When a story is too personal it becomes therapy and that is not my way of seeing cinema, but when exploring the novel it seemed to me that it would be more honest to look at the real reason why I was interested in it,” she says, since she herself she was dealing with the desire and difficulty of being a mother after 40.
“For a woman, the opportunity passes very quickly and it is unfair, that was the starting point, my anger with that, my rebellion,” she says.
From there, the film explores ways to sublimate that desire for “transmission”, either through teaching – the protagonist is a high school teacher – or through the role of stepmother.
Zlotowski says that he started reviewing movies where stepmothers were protagonists and had a hard time finding them, beyond the “stereotypical and evil role” associated with traditional Disney tales.
Kind characters also deserve to be counted
“There was one by Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts originally titled ‘Stepmom’ (‘Stepmother’) but in France they translated it as ‘My best enemy’, and I didn’t want that idea of rivalry and conflict in my film,” he says.
In Zlotowski’s opinion, the prevailing idea is that kind characters are less interesting than excessive ones. “I don’t agree, and I think it’s time for us as filmmakers to assume our responsibility to break new ground because there are very emotional stories that deserve to be told.”
Innovate in the way of showing nudes
It also innovates in the way of showing the naked bodies of men and women. «The traditional scene, in the cinema and in painting, is that of the man who looks at the woman who washes or fixes her hair, and for me it was important to show a woman who looks, and not that she is looked at», underlines.
«The woman’s body is often associated with the beautiful and the man’s with the comic, and in the film we have fun turning that relationship around: she enjoys the beauty of his body and he has fun looking at her her”, he explains, alluding to a scene in which Efira is trapped naked on the terrace of her house.
“Who says that a male body is not beautiful?” Zlotowski wonders. «They are political, social and aesthetic constructions that must be fought against and in the cinema in particular, because even today showing an erect penis systematically implies the prohibition of minors under 18 years of age, while the sex of the woman can be ‘mainstream’ without problems”, he points out. “Men protect their privacy, women have been exposed for a long time.”
Precisely one of his next works, as a screenwriter, is the revision of a classic of erotic cinema, “Emmanuelle”, which will star Léa Seydoux and will be directed by Audrey Diwan, winner of the Golden Lion of Venice for “The Event”.