“I went to high school in Cannes so I had the chance to go very early to the film festival,” he recalls. “I think the first time it was at the age of 14 or 15, and it was amazing to go to the festival at such a young age. It was such a boring city so when the festival was coming it was like the big event.”
From 2006 to 2012, a number of his short films played the festival’s sidebar events Critics Week and Director’s Fortnight before his feature-length debut launched at Critics Week. Perplexingly described as a French sex comedy, those expecting a Gallic Carry on up the Côte will find You and The Night a far more mysterious, surreal and sensual proposition.
“I had the most perfect childhood and teenage years,” he reminiscences. “Everything was very quiet and very, very happy. So yeah, I don’t know where I dig these nightmares of mine from. Happily I don’t have any trauma,” he assures.
You and The Night has its moments of darkness and angst but the film, which sees characters known only as The Slut, The Star, The Stud and The Teen rendezvous at an apartment for an orgy, is also loaded with hope, beauty and possibility.
Gonzalez concurs: “Because otherwise, you spend three or four years in the making of the film, so if you don’t have any hope at the end of the tunnel it’s terrible. How can you hang on to this dream, to this film, without any light?”
A triumph of imagination and resourcefulness over budgetary constraints, You and The Night transcends these limitations to deliver a number of highly stylised but visually stunning set pieces.
What will get tongues wagging however is its inspired casting, which features a memorable cameo from Betty Blue star Béatrice Dalle and a hilarious turn from Eric Cantona as the well-endowed Stud.
Says Gonzalez: “Having Eric Cantona on my set was a dream. I never thought I would have him and to my surprise he read the screenplay. Actually, it was my short films which made him decide to make the film, not the screenplay. I think he didn’t give a shit about the screenplay. He wanted to see my previous work and to him that’s the important thing.
“It’s the same thing for Béatrice Dalle, for instance. She never reads screenplays; she only wants to see the films you’ve made before. So that was very brave of her because before I had only made short films. And to the end she never read the screenplay. She discovered the film at the festival and she didn’t know what was going to be on the screen besides her sequence, which she read at the last minute, maybe one week before we shot it. I think she was quite surprised,” he laughs incredulously. “I think she wondered if it was really a good idea to make this fucking film.”
Another strong presence in the film is the soundtrack, provided by his brother Anthony from the band M83.“To me the music is really the soul of the film. It’s everything which is not said by the characters but that you can feel without putting a word in to it,” says Gonzalez.
- You and The Night is released in Ireland on DVD and via the Volta streaming service on November 10.