For “9 Mois Ferme”, his fifth production, Albert Dupontel signs a film inspired by the legal world which almost happened in England and without Sandrine Kiberlain, but with Emma Thompson instead.
Critical and public success
It was in October 2013 that the fifth achievement of Albert Dupontel 9 was unveiled to the general public. Firm Month. The film, described as “funny drama” by its author, tells the story of a young examining magistrate embodied by Sandrine Kiberlain, a hardened celibate with strict morals, becoming pregnant without the slightest explanation of a criminal prosecuted for an atrocious assault, camped by Albert Dupontel himself .
The film is a real public and critical success. At this point in his directorial career, it is his best box office score with over 2 million entries. A score that will be similar for his two following films: Goodbye Up there in 2017 et Goodbye Cons in 2020.
Critical side, The world evoked “One of the funniest comedies we have seen in a long time” while for West France “While the French cinema is calfeune in timorous decorum, Albert Dupontel dares (…) by the sequence of the good words in the dialogues and the unusual finds for visual gags”.
The documentary that inspired Dupontel
Viewing a famous documentary by Raymond Depardon inspired the idea for the film to Albert Dupontel. He explains it to the Swiss site Clap in 2013 :
I saw 10th Chamber – Instants of hearing by Depardon who struck me a lot, moved me a lot. Depardon dares truth and simplicity, which is not my case. From this film, I gambergé.
This documentary relates ” twelve cases, twelve stories of men and women who one day found themselves facing justice “ within the framework of the hearings of the 10th Correctional Chamber of Paris, exceptionally authorized to be filmed. Dupontel also had the privilege of shooting certain sequences of his film in the prestigious enclosure of the Paris courthouse. A place that marked the director, as he explains in the film’s press release:
This decor is unique in the world. No courthouse exists in such an ancient and prestigious place. The paradox lies between the beauty of the place and the tragedies that take place there on a daily basis… It is very impressive.
In a nod to the documentary that inspired him, Dupontel gave the role of court president to Judge Michèle Bernard-Requin, who appears throughout 10th Chamber – Instants of hearing. She also provided technical advice to the director, drawing his attention to the inconsistencies of the script compared to the truth of the judicial system.
In English and without Sandrine Kiberlain
Despite its success, the film failed never see the light of day. Dupontel having always been inspired by British humor, the film had to be shot first in English with Emma Thompson in the leading role. He was encouraged to do so by his friend Terry Gilliam, ex-Monty Python, who kept telling him that “failure in English travels more than success in French”. However, a complicated production, with a lack of money and freedom, forced Dupontel to return to France.
He then faced a new problem. After months of casting, he can’t find the heroine of his film. He was then looking for a “aggressive petite brunette“. While he was about to drop the project, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Jean Dujardin advise him to offer the film to Sandrine Kiberlain. She recounts her discovery of the script to l’Obs in 2013 :
The script made me scream with laughter. In the character of Ariadne, there is everything to play: the confusion, the surprise, the fear, the romantic encounter. Since the Conservatory, I had not interpreted such a palette.
Albert Dupontel, won over by the trials, finally gave the role to Kiberlain and then made the character of the examining magistrate “a tall, tender blonde“in his words, contrary to his first wishes. This unexpected encounter will be a real success for both actors since this fourth achievement allowed Dupontel to win his first Caesar (that of the best original screenplay) and Sandrine Kiberlain to obtain that of the best actress, eighteen years after her first César, the best female hope.