“Polisse,” a French cop drama, features truly outstanding performances, ones that linger in your memory long after the credits roll.
How did director and co-writer Maïwenn (she also played Melissa the photographer) get this stunning work from her cast?
At a recent press conference in Beverly Hills, after first saying she was simply lucky, Maïwenn elaborated on her collaboration with actors. She said the key was to keep it simple and true. “I think the secret is the way you [the actors] listen to me, the way you listen to the script. All the cases were true, based on real cases.”
As for working with the children, Maïwenn said she was extremely careful to shield the kids from any negative impact that might result from playing characters in such traumatic situations. This included involvement from a French child-protection agency and a psychologist.
And recognizing their limits. “When the kids were on the set, we had to go fast. They want to have it fun so it has to be short. Otherwise, if they have to wait too much, they’re getting bored.
Additionally, she put much thought and effort into casting the children. “I am a mother so I’m used to talking with kids and I knew them a long time before the shoot and I met their parents. … When I felt that the kids were too much pushed by their parents, I wouldn’t take them. I was an actress child and my mother was pushing me too much. … I chose the kids when they were authentic and when they were not too much actors. … The kids I loved, when I asked them, ‘Why do you want to do this movie?’ they said because it’s true cases.”
Maïwenn discovered that fine-tuning the script to minimize lewd words and the suggestion of acts involving the kids improved the storytelling. “I discovered that the less you show, the more it’s powerful.”