A struggling actor, played by Kad Merad, agrees to lead a theater workshop in prison. Surprised by the talent of the inmates, he decides to put on a real play with them. Funny and hyper-realistic, “Un triomphe” by Emmanuel Courcol received the audience award at the Angoulême festival.
You only have to look at the poster for “Un triomphe” to know that we are in a comedy, a feel good movie. The Audience Award which was awarded to him at the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival attests to this.
But “A triumph” is also a magnificent work on patience, the time it takes to do things well. Director Emmanuel Courcol, a late theater actor, took several years to complete his project, both ambitious and very simple: to make a fiction so documented that it is overwhelming with its authenticity and accuracy.
>> To see, the trailer of “A triumph”:
To make ends meet, Étienne, a passionate but struggling actor (played by Kad Merad), agrees to lead a theater workshop in prison. Surprised by the talent of this improbable troupe, he plans to direct Beckett’s famous play, “Waiting for Godot”, “the story of two guys in shit who hope for a better tomorrow” and outside the walls. An obvious choice for Etienne since an inmate is necessarily in a waiting position – for visits or for release from prison – just like the two vagabonds in the room.
Then begins a triumphant tour. But while Étienne finally has the chance to experience success on the stage, his actors must return to their cell each evening.
“A triumph”, by Emmanuel Courcol, with Marina Hands as prison director. [Carole Bethuel – Memento Films]
Inspired by a True Story
“Un triomphe” is inspired by real events, in connection with the work of Irène Muscari, cultural coordinator for the Penitentiary Service of Integration and Probation at the Penitentiary Center of Meaux, where the film was shot.
“In 2017, Emmanuel Courcol asked me to visit the prison and read the beginning of a script. I then suggested that he follow the work we were doing at the penitentiary center, the creation of a hip opera. hop, baptized ‘Twelve strings’, played by nine inmates, a quintet of the Orchester de chambre de Paris, a soprano, a dancer and a percussionist. He accompanied us for eight months by filming all the stages. made it possible to make oneself known and recognized by the prison administration “, explains Irène Muscari.
The director is editing this documentary which should be released early next year.
>> To watch, a report on the creation of “Twelve strings” with the inmates:
But let’s come back to this “Triumph” which allows Kad Merad to get out of his hustle and bustle to perhaps play his best role in the cinema. Lost in his personal problems, victim of a latent depression and devoured by his passion for the theater, he is the least funny character of this film which reserves some great moments of comedy. But his final monologue – which resulted in three days of filming – is already considered a piece of anthology.
Around the star, Emmanuel Courcol chose professional actors but unknown or little known to the public.
The difficulty was to play on two registers: the first very naturalistic, spontaneous, almost documentary; the second very theatrical, knowing how to read and interpret a text. Highly difficult exercise: nothing is worse for a good actor than playing a bad actor.
The film does not only tell the story of a troop in the process of being formed, but also the relations between delinquents and guards, “a thankless job which generates a lot of frustrations”, the complicated relations with the penitentiary institution and of course. the links between prisoners, even if, by adopting Etienne’s point of view, the spectator will not know for what precise offense the amateur actors found themselves behind bars.
“A triumph”? Both a tribute from cinema to theater and from theater to cinema.
Interview by Pierre Philippe Cadert
Web adaptation: Marie-Claude Martin