Éléonore Faucher explains to FilmExposed why painstakingly sewing beads on a piece of cloth is the fabric of life for her two characters in BRODEUSES...
Director Peter Webber made mixing paint a visually stunning experience to watch in Girl With A Pearl Earring. The craft of painting was just as interesting as unfolding drama between Vermeer and his muse. The same could be said of BRODEUSES where Director Éléonore Faucher's drama of the developing friendship between two women is played out to the backdrop of embroidery.
Your two characters are coming to terms with the fears and traumas that come with motherhood: 17 year old mother-to-be Claire and Madame Mélikian, a mother grieving for her dead son. What inspired this story?
When I was expecting my child, I was always questioning whether I was going to be a good enough mother to raise her. I was also terrified at the thought of losing my child. So unconsciously I put all of those thoughts and fears into the characters of Clare and Madame Mélikian. But also Madame Mélikian was a mixture of things. I took my inspiration for her character from Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca in that she’s all in black, and is a little frightening! She also has a mystery about her; she’s travelled from Eastern Europe and has a different history of culture. And a different way of dealing with things, especially her grief.
A lot of time is spent embroidering, did the actresses learn the craft for the film?
Yes, they both learnt how to embroider with the embroiderer who made the pieces for the movie. The actresses deliberately didn’t wear rings because for the shots showing the more intricate sewing techniques, the hands filmed were those of the embroiderer. Lola Naymark who plays Claire learnt very quickly, and when she had to tear the piece, she was very nervous and really didn’t want to destroy this beautiful work, so the embroiderer ripped it herself. We all winced!
The dialogue between Claire and Madame Mélikian is sparse, even more so when they are embroidering. What was it about sewing in particular that you felt would make a good backdrop to their developing friendship?
Two things mainly. Firstly, when you sew, you think differently; your hands take over and the thoughts are more dream-like. For Claire's character, it was a way for her to mature, and to change towards her baby. At the beginning she is very angry about the baby, she hides her pregnancy and sews to forget about it. When the dress is finished, Claire is heavily pregnant, and despite an uncertain future, is more positive about her child. Secondly the sewing itself, the making of the dress, of creating something very beautiful out of thread reinforces Claire and Madame Mélikian’s situation; that together they nurture, create and re-build their lives.
Visually there is a strong contrast between the countryside that Claire leaves behind and the almost womb-like glow in Madame Mélikian’s workshop where she ends up. Was that deliberate?
Yes. I didn’t want the nature to just be some pretty scenery in the background. The nature was the savage part of Claire; she gets pregnant recklessly because she was too close to her basic instincts. In the scene with Guillaume in the woods, pregnant as she is, she’s not afraid of her sexuality. Madame Mélikian’s workshop is a refuge for both women; womb-like yes, a place where both women grow.
Brodeuses is currently on release.
Confirmed Regional dates: 3 June: Aberdeen Belmont; 10 June: Exeter Picturehouse, Bath Little Theatre; 24 June: Oxford Phoenix, Nottingham Broadway; 1 July: Ipswich Film Theatre, Wolverhampton Light House; 8 July: Brighton Duke Of York; 15 July: Belfast QFT; 22 July: Lancaster Dukes