Since his tender youth, Ira Sachs has been in love with France in general and French cinema in particular. For his new feature film, Passages, the American director shot the story of a love triangle in France, with a team of European talents. Its main actors are German, English and French: Franz Rogowski (Great Freedom), Ben Whishaw (Women Talking) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (La vie d’Adèle). Passages premiered at Sundance in January and was nominated for Best Feature in Berlin last February.

“I have a very intimate relationship with Paris. It is a city where I had sex, relationships and heartbreak, illustrates Sachs. And it’s also THE world capital of auteur cinema, nothing to compare with New York. I saw 197 movies in one season when I lived in Paris! In the late 1980s, Sachs studied film in the City of Light.

Passages tells the story of Tomas, a German director who lives in a relationship in Paris with Martin. One evening at the end of a shoot, he meets Agathe in a bar. Thunderbolt ! From then on, Tomas begins an open affair which threatens the stability of his couple with Martin. Between the two, Tomas will have to make a choice…

Ira Sachs explores a classic subject, but with a current flavor. “I love the erotic side and the suspense of the love triangle,” he says. In the center of his triangle, the bestial Tomas, a kind of artistic-bobo Stanley Kowalski. “Tomas resists the norms and constraints of social life. He is rough, bestial. But he is a man capable of turning ugliness into beauty, ”sums up the filmmaker. Sachs says he directed two brilliant actors, poles apart, to form the adrift couple.

Tomas also questions the fluidity of his sexual orientation. There are quite explicit sex scenes, raw humor, and a neat and bohemian side. For Sachs, the choice that the third side of the triangle be a woman comes from a reflection made after seeing The Innocent. This Visconti classic also exposes the tumultuous relationships of a love triangle, but from a completely different era. “I was fascinated by the beauty and sensuality of [Italian actress] Laura Antonelli. I even questioned the binary nature, the fluidity of my own sexual desire,” says the director, married to Latin American painter Boris Torres.

Passages is the fifth feature he has co-written in ten years with Mauricio Zacharias, following Frankie, Little Men, Love Is Strange and the moving Keep the Lights On. The duo is interested in cinema that relates the complexity of human relationships. “My films are very personal. I put as much of myself as possible, developing fictions that will be transformed by the acting of the actors. The only reason I create films is to show human truth. »

The pleasure of cinema, for him, is also to work with light and “to explore colors, skin, bodies, beauty”. For Passages, he was assisted by director of photography Josée Deshaies, a Quebecer who lives and works on both continents. (Deshaies collaborated, among other things, on the films My Brother’s Wife, Nelly, Curling and Saint-Laurent by Bertrand Bonello, his life companion).

“Passages is a film about transition. I tried to make a film where in each scene, you are never certain of what will happen next, where everything is possible. My goal is to seduce the audience, so that people in the room are turned on by my films,” concludes Ira Sachs. Finally, the filmmaker sees his works as amorous conquests. Tomas would probably have said the same thing…