The essential question arises: how do you express routine and habit, essentially anti-dramatic notions which are organic to this job? How do you film a job so it becomes the only source of dramatization?
A few visual ground rules are established: respect the different colours of street lighting (yellows and blues), not correct or soften them; eliminate as far as possible any descriptive shots and particularly any framing that over dramatizes an action; stay with the cops and see what they see when they tail or pursue suspects; never leave the point of view of the pursuer; refuse all stylistic effects inherent in the thriller genre; stick to the characters, follow their rhythm, reflect the routine and unstable nature of their life, and think at the same time as they do. A difficult choice, because the audience has a thousand formal, ideological references in its head – American references in particular: promotion of individualism, rejection of collective spirit, predominance of plot. I want to overturn these references.
Most importantly, avoid all judgement, all kinds ofpaternalism, and respect the rages and moods of Lucien Marguet – Lulu.
First of all, find a face for Lulu. Forget the model he’s based on (my co-screenwriter: Michel Alexandre). Keep only his essential traits. I discarded the idea of giving him a beard. Since Claude Miller’s film is running late I’m not going to have the actor I chose – Didier Bezace – until very shortly before we begin shooting, so there’ll be no time for him to grow a beard. On the other hand, this morning, while filming the final tests, I was delighted with the idea of curling his hair. His moustache and glasses give him a working-class look.
The film needs a face that is unknown – one free of references – someone unfamiliar to (maybe having seen Didier less than the other actors will be just as stimulating in the end). Of the six actors who make up the police unit, one (Philippe Torreton) has no film experience; two have very little and never in these kind of parts (Didier Bezace and my companion Charlotte Kady); and two are being cast against type (Jean-Roger Milo and my son Nils).