Lacoste is clear

Actor Vincent on grief and working with Christophe Honoré on Winter Boy and his hopes for the future

by Amber Wilkinson

Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lacoste as mother and son in Winter Boy. Lacoste: 'It was very enjoyable preparing for this role, because Christophe always proposes different roles for me to play'
Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lacoste as mother and son in Winter Boy. Lacoste: 'It was very enjoyable preparing for this role, because Christophe always proposes different roles for me to play' Photo: Jean-Louis Fernandez

At 29, Vincent Lacoste has firmly established himself as one of the bright lights of French cinema, notching up more than 40 credits since his debut in Riad Sattouf’s The French Kissers at the age of 15. His latest sees him reteam with Christophe Honoré for Winter Boy (Le Lycéen) after the pair previously collaborated on Sorry Angel and On A Magical Night.

The film sees him take on supporting role duties as Quentin, the older brother of Lucas (played by newcomer Paul Kircher, who shared the acting prize in San Sebastian for his performance) as the pair of them and their mother (Juliette Binoche) come to terms with the death of his father. Although the focus is on the emotional turmoil of 17-year-old Lucas, his fractious relationship with Quentin also comes to the fore when the youngster accepts an invite to visit him in Paris after the funeral.

Speaking to Lacoste in San Sebastian, he says he has always been “a big fan” of the director. He adds: “It’s always a pleasure to be able to work with him. He's very loyal with the actors he works with and you always know more or less what to expect from him. The thing is that we have a very good relationship, I think he's one of the best filmmakers in France. He's somebody able to make very different films. It is true that he has his own universe, but he always works also with originality. He’s someone I love to work with because he always tells different stories.”

Lacoste’s character in Winter Boy is also a subtle shift for him, as he is - at least initially - less sympathetic than the other roles he has taken on for Honoré in the past.

Vincent Lacoste signs autographs in San Sebastian
Vincent Lacoste signs autographs in San Sebastian Photo: Courtesy San Sebastian Film Festival/Gari Garaialde

“It was very enjoyable preparing this role, because he always proposes different roles for me to play. For example, when he proposed Sorry, Angel, I was doing mainly comedies. And in that case, he took me to different places, it was a much more dramatic role, more adult. So I really enjoyed that very much. In this case, it is true that my character can seem a little bit colder and even mean at certain times. But we spoke a lot, Christophe and myself, about how to approach it. And even if he can appear like that, at the end of the day, he is just somebody who is in pain, mourning the loss of his father, who feels guilty. So that's why he's portrayed like that.”

This idea of grappling with grief runs through the film, as all the characters are volatile in terms of their mood, so that Quentin can be laughing with his brother and one moment and then furious the next.

Lacoste says: “The script was very well written, everything was in Christophe’s mind - the relationship that I have with my brother, the relationship between the different members of the family he has already written that down. I think that how you react in these circumstances will depend on each family. For example, in my own family, we wouldn't have been reacting like that. I approached it by having a lot of dialogue with Paul, my brother i the film. Christophe very often asked me to provoke him, to push him and that is what we tried to do.

“My character is a bit of a satellite character. The most important character is my brother in the film and how he becomes an adult through that experience. But it is true sometimes I looked like somebody unstable as somebody destroyed and I think that’s what Christophe wanted me to be in this period of mourning and grievance.”

The film was shot against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic, with masks appearing at points in the film, something Lacoste says there was no way of avoiding since they were frequently in background shots as everyone in the street was wearing masks.

As far as Covid playing into the mood of the film, Lacoste notes that the pandemic “put all of us in a situation of loneliness one way or another”.

Paul Kircher, Vincent Lacoste and Erwan Kepoa Falé in Winter Boy. Lacoste: 'In 10 years time, I don't know where I will be, I cannot project myself. I really hope that I will still be an actor, that I will be making different films and that I will have the chance to keep on meeting excellent filmmakers
Paul Kircher, Vincent Lacoste and Erwan Kepoa Falé in Winter Boy. Lacoste: 'In 10 years time, I don't know where I will be, I cannot project myself. I really hope that I will still be an actor, that I will be making different films and that I will have the chance to keep on meeting excellent filmmakers Photo: Jean-Louis Fernandez

He adds: “Maybe the most important thing with Covid is the uncertainty that it has generated among all of us. And for young people, you know, when they try to project themselves into the future, maybe it was even harder than ever before, with this Covid situation, to be able to project themselves into the future. I don’t think we can consider this future to be a good and prosperous future with all the problems, the pandemic, ecological problems, etc, etc. So maybe he used that to show this grief in the family, the mourning, the loneliness and the violence. The two brothers are somehow lonely, aren't really able to communicate with each other and that is why sometimes there are these outbursts of violence as a result of that problem of communication. My character also at a certain point felt frustrated because he had left the family and had gone to Paris to become an adult and to evolve and now here he is again feeling like the son of this lost father.”

In terms of his own career, Lacoste says he is “open to any proposals” he might get for future roles.

“There are so many things I haven’t done,” he says. “I would love to do a war film or a police film or sword-and-sandals or historical film,” he adds, noting with a grin that sword-and-sandals films “aren’t trendy any more”.

He also notes that he has done English language with Olivier Assayas (Irma Vep) although he has a strong French accent when he speaks English and adds, “I could be the next Charles Boyer”.

Looking ahead he says: “In 10 years time, I don't know where I will be, I cannot project myself. I really hope that I will still be an actor that I will be making different films and that I will have the chance to keep on meeting excellent filmmakers. I hope that I won’t be falling into oblivion.”

As for a filmmaker he hasn’t worked with before, he says, “I would love to do a film with Aki Kaurismäki, I love his films and I think he’s a fun guy.”

Read our interview with Christophe Honoré and Paul Kircher.

Winter Boy will play at New York's Rendez-vous withe French Cinema on March 9 and 11.

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