Isabelle Huppert’s latest film, “Frankie” from director Ira Sachs, required the actress to be especially open and honest, trusting in the strength of the characters and the performers around her rather than a strict plot.
Huppert plays an internationally famous actress who learns she has a terminal illness and brings together friends and family at a resort in Portugal in order to find some closure and hope that her loved ones are taken care of after she’s gone. But as Huppert explains, that’s “only a small part of the film,” which examines deeper relationships between its entire ensemble.
“There’s a lot being said and a lot being unsaid, and that really runs all along the film all the time, and it’s really important to capture the spirit of the film,” Huppert told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman at the Toronto International Film Festival. “It’s one of those films where you feel so much trust by the strength of the camera, which is able to have people talk, but you feel that a lot is going on underneath, and I think that’s really Ira Sachs’s skill.”
“Frankie” is Sachs’s ninth film, which premiered at Cannes and then played at TIFF. And it is yet another film of Sachs’s that uses complex characters above plot constraints to stage intimate dramas about family and love. He assembled an impressive cast that includes Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson and Jérémie Renier specifically because of how they could interact on screen together.
“They were a group of people who I had a sense when I cast them would work together as a family,” Sachs said. “It’s a common acting style, a way in which a group of people who are willing to be very open and vulnerable and human and present with the camera. The film is about presence, it’s about a simplicity of being.”
Huppert felt comforted by how Sachs let his actors feel real and said in many ways it didn’t feel like acting at all.
“For me, it’s also a movie about the power of cinema, because when we acted, it was more like a non-acting performance for all of us, and when I say non-acting, it’s the degree zero of acting,” Huppert said. “You just let the human beings exist. No plot, and nothing, irony, a little comment, just the pure presence and pure strength of what’s being said, and that’s all.”
Sony Pictures Classics is releasing “Frankie” in theaters Oct. 25. Watch TheWrap’s interview with Huppert and Sachs above.