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TORONTO 2021 Special Presentations

Fabrice Du Welz • Director of Inexorable

"I tried not to play the artist too much with this film, in order to construct a thriller, pure and simple"


- The Belgian director spoke to us about this new film which is very much in keeping with his previous work, but which also breathes fresh air into his cinema by exploring the huis clos form

Fabrice Du Welz  • Director of Inexorable
(© Aurore Engelen)

We met with Belgian director Fabrice Du Welz, whose latest deeply dark opus Inexorable [+see also:
film review
interview: Fabrice Du Welz
film profile
has been selected for the Toronto Film Festival’s Special Presentations section. He spoke to us about this new film which is very much in keeping with his previous work, but which also breathes fresh air into his particular brand of film by exploring the huis clos form.

Cineuropa: Where did the idea for Inexorable come from, and what direction were you looking to go in?
Fabrice Du Welz:
What I wanted was to construct a real erotic thriller, like the ones that were around when I was a teenager, studio films like The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Single White Female, with real sexual tension; something deeply horrific but also very exciting. That’s what I tried to do, using the archetype of a young woman who uncovers everyone’s lies, but changing my approach, notably by being a lot more hands off when it came to the mise en scène, which was the opposite of what I’d done with Adoration [+see also:
film review
interview: Fabrice du Welz
film profile

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One of the film’s striking opening scenes is a ghostly apparition, a young woman dressed in black who is moving towards the camera in the company of a huge white dog. The two seem to be linked…
Animality is at the heart of the film, Gloria’s animality comes via this dog. This lost dog, who people are looking for at the beginning of the film, finds an echo in young Gloria who’s equally lost and in search of a master. I didn’t want the savagery of the story to be purely demonstrative, I wanted it to come from somewhere. I worked a lot on the psychology of the characters, and I tried to distance myself as much as possible from the mise en scène. I tried to construct this film in a more precise and cerebral manner than its predecessors, which involved more of an intuitive process, even when it came to the progression of the story. I’ve framed the film very differently here. There are more wide shots and even a form of classicism. I actually tried not to play the artist too much with this film, and to construct a thriller, pure and simple. Something a bit old school, where you see the film grain and old-fashioned credits; it’s a key characteristic of this movie, right up to the very end. It’s a film imbued with a certain level of cinephile nostalgia, which you enter into as if it were a Chabrol movie, which then turns into a sort of black hole which sucks the audience in and fills them with an irresistible urge to know what happens in the end.

What is it that’s inexorable for mankind? Evil? Is Gloria an allegory of this?
Gloria is symbolic of lies. In ghost films, the former are often the incarnation of a lie or even of original sin. Ultimately, that’s what Gloria represents; she arrives in a ghostly fashion in this house which appears to be peaceful, at first glance. But it’s deeply rooted in lies, unspeakable lies which sometimes go back as far as 20 years. As soon as the first lie comes out, there’s no going back. And I was fascinated by that mechanism.

The film is a huis clos - something new to your particular brand of cinema - in which the house is a genuine character.
The character of the house was very important. Manu Dacosse, Manu De Meulemeester and I worked on textures, lighting, how to light up scenes only using the light sources readily available in the setting… It was a three-step process: we invested and designed the house so that it would evolve as the story progressed. With the lie, the breach becomes ever wider. And the house, for its part, begins to crumble.

Unlike The Ordeal [+see also:
film profile
or Adoration, there’s nothing farcical about the film’s violence; it’s purely literal, namely that of film noir.
I think it was François Guérif who said that film noir is a genre where everyone is a victim, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do. In fact, it’s never been the farcical that’s interested me, but amoral poetry. What interests me is people’s complexity. What makes film noir so extraordinary is the fact that its screenwriters never worry about what’s moral.

What do you have in the pipeline?
I’m preparing a new film, Maldoror, which tells the story of a young man who has become a gendarme in order to change his life and to be of use. He joins a surveillance operation following a notorious sex offender. It’s set in Belgium in the 1990s, obviously harking back to the country’s recent history. It’s very well documented, the script has been written and we’re going to try to shoot it next year.

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(Translated from French)

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