Romain Gavras on The World Is Yours: 'It's pretty different to what we usually do in France'
- James Mottram
- 19 April 2019
French-Greek director discusses his flamboyant pop-gangster comedy
When Romain Gavras' The World Is Yours played in Cannes last year, the French crowds went wild. 'It was such a pleasure to have such a responsive audience,' reflects Gavras, when we meet in Paris at promo event UniFrance. 'A pop-gangster comedy', as Gavras terms it, this Pulp Fiction-style tale with its Scarface-referencing title is exactly the sort of movie young French filmgoers don't often get.
'A lot of filmmakers, especially my generation, are attracted to making a gangster film,' he continues. 'Usually, these glamorise gangster-ism and it makes it more mysterious and more romantic than it is. But real life is way more funny, insane and absurd.' To that end, Gavras talked to real-life criminal lawyers and attended trials to take inspiration for his story about François (Karim Leklou), a small-time drug dealer looking to go legit with an ice-lolly franchise.
To do so, François gets roped into a one-last-deal situation in Spain, and must contend with Danny (Isabelle Adjani), 'a badass Versace mum' says Gavras, who shoplifts and safe-cracks the way some mothers make sandwiches. 'I've known plenty of women like her!' laughs Adjani. 'Very extravagant, spoiled, yet endearing women. She's like a character that belongs to a cabaret. She loves to switch costumes, personalities, within her own diva ego.'
Intriguingly, the film's criminal element is Scottish gangster Bruce (Sam Spruell). 'I live half my time in London and most of my friends there are Scottish,' reasons Gavras, who wanted to avoid shaping Bruce as the cliché British 'geezer'. The film also introduces Glasgow-born newcomer Gabby Rose, who plays Brittany, Bruce's daughter who becomes collateral when François' drug-deal goes south. 'She'd never acted before,' says Gavras. 'She was so amazing.
Best known for commercials and music videos (including M.I.A.'s controversial 'Born Free'), Gavras' first film was 2010's anarchic red-heads-will-inherit-the-earth yarn Our Day Will Come, starring Vincent Cassel. 'I'm pretty sure Romain is going to become one of the most important French directors of our time,' proclaims Cassel, who returns here as Danny's dim-witted boyfriend, Henri, obsessed by secret society, the Illuminati.
When Gavras first showed Cassel the script, he wanted to play Bruce but the director refused. 'He's always cool and sexy, Vincent, so it was way more interesting to have him a sadder version of himself.' What results is an exhilarating, colourful ride – not exactly the sort of dialogue-heavy movie we're used to from our Gallic cousins. 'It's pretty different to what we usually do in France,' grins Cassel. About time too.
The World Is Yours, selected release from Fri 26 Apr.