As Guillaume Brac puts it, Tonnerre means thunder in French but refers as well to a small village of the Burgundy region in France. This particular village is dear to the director’s heart, as some of his relatives live near by. “A great starting point for fiction”, he says. The city of Tonnerre may be small, but make no mistake, still waters run deep, this quiet town is not as peaceful as it seems to be…
Tonnerre embodies a “promise of fiction and explosion” as Guillaume Brac likes to present it. At first, we are the mere spectators of Maxime’s life. However, at some point the narration takes a radical turn, and the dramatic mechanisms soar up. “I wanted the film to be like a succession of thunder’s sounds.” The first detonation being the romantic encounter of 33 year old musician Maxime and the ravishing 20 year old Melody, followed by her disappearance, and Maxime’s act of madness.
After Un monde sans femmes, Guillaume Brac promised his long time friend and actor Vincent Macaigne that for his next film he will play a more charismatic and alluring man. As a matter of fact, the solitary and introverted character that Vincent Macaigne played in Un monde sans femmes, has known a remarkable evolution in Tonnerre. Even though he faces a void in his life, and is portrayed as vulnerable and lacking of affection, he is now able to maintain a sentimental relationship, which was not the case in Brac’s previous film.
The subtle precision of Macaigne’s acting probably stems from the fact that him and Brac have known each other for a very long time. Over the years, they have developed a great complicity, which made the film possible. Working with actors is essential to Guillaume Brac: “I like to learn from them and I am interested in revealing other facets of them that have not been seen yet.” For instance, he endeavored to show Bernard Menez’s character in a Chekhovian light, giving him a more tragic density. “I didn’t want to confine Bernard Menez to the role of a sheer entertainer”, he concludes.
Responding to a question about the coexistence of different generations in the film, Guillaume Brac pointed out that the sentimental narrative did not seem sufficient to him, therefore he needed to engrave the story within a larger frame, i.e. the father-son relationship. As the story unfolds, Maxime and his father go through similar experiences. The father’s past echoes his son’s present and questions the notion of transmission.
To carry the thunder metaphor further, let’s hope that the jury of the Concorso Internazionalewill be taken by stormas they dive into Tonnerre.Ingrid Raison