INTERVIEW – The anticipatory feature film with Hugo Becker and Jean Reno was released in theaters on Wednesday. The young director tells about the challenge of making a first film that goes off the beaten track and looks back on the legacy of great masters such as Jules Verne or Georges Méliès.
Romain Quirot almost apologizes for having to call back because he just had binoculars, “And that it shakes up life a bit”. Is it finally a coincidence? Having binoculars for a science fiction director seems almost normal, as young Romain Quirot’s gaze is constantly turned towards the future. The Last Voyage, this very successful first film, examines the almost apocalyptic future of a France transformed into a desert, where we can see an Eiffel Tower slumped on the dunes, or the red carrot of a tobacco sign floating above a sea of sand …
The plot of Last trip features an astronaut, Paul WR (impeccably played by Hugo Becker) who has deserted his launch pad to escape his responsibilities. His father scientist played by Jean Reno needs him to save the Earth from an absolute threat.
A gigantic red moon is approaching dangerously close to our blue planet. Will she hit it? The man of science imagined a rocket that his son Paul WR is the only one who knows how to propel straight to the point. As the unworthy son deserted, the scientist sent his second son (Paul Hamy) in search of his brother …
Engage in a fratricidal chase aboard flying cars against a backdrop of desert roads à la Mad Max … Poetic, rhythmic and unmistakably French, The Last Trip succeeds in staging an apocalyptic intrigue while having fun hijacking the codes of American blockbusters. We come across a flying 504 Peugeot, an abandoned cinema room like a wild saloon from which could emerge the Eddy Mitchell of The last session, this movie show that flourished on FR3 between 1982 and 1998.
This retro sci-fi atmosphere very 80s also comes from the soundtrack … From the start, hearing the synthetic chants of Kim Wilde’s hit Cambodia, the spectator embarks on a strange time capsule.
“I grew up very far from Paris, in Uchaux in Provence, confides the director, winner of the Grand Prix du jury du 4e Nikon film festival in 2013 with the short film A vague memory. As soon as I was old enough to play imagining stories, I borrowed my father’s camcorder and started filming my stories, inspired by Star wars or Indiana Jones. At the age of ten, a film made me fall completely into a kind of wonder as melancholy as it is poetic, it is Blade runner. I didn’t understand everything, but I was dazzled. ”
In The Last Trip, we feel some reminiscences of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, and even a little explicit sound wink at the beginning of the film from the Sound track created by Vangelis.
After spending five years on the benches of law school, pursuing a master’s degree in criminal sciences, Romain Quirot realizes that he wants to make cinema. Self-taught, he found a little job as an assistant editor on the Internet in a Parisian production company, Sleepless. He made his debut there, making commercials and music videos.
After obtaining the Nikon prize, Quirot followed up with another sponsorship competition that he also won: the Audi Talent Awards in 2015. He presented there The Last Voyage of the enigmatic Paul WR (2015), offbeat and poetic science fiction short film that prefigures his future feature film. The film will be awarded at more than fifty festivals and will even finish in the 50 finalists of the Oscars 2017.
For many people in the business, making a French science fiction film is an unreasonable dream!
“When I proposed to transform this short film into a full length, the French producers looked at me strangely, remembers Romain Quirot. When it finally became a reality, I realized that I was about to climb an impassable mountain. Many have told me: “Don’t make an SF film in France”. However, before, without being chauvinistic, France was one of the most innovative countries in science fiction. There have been Jules Verne then Georges Méliès. We were the initiators of the genre. French producers want more conventional cinema. As I am naturally rebellious, I told myself that I was going to do it anyway. I have beenyou a little kamikaze no doubt … For many people in the profession, making a French SF film is an unreasonable dream!“
Thanks to Fanny Pailloux, a former member of Luc Besson who now heads the company Apaches Production and David Danesi, special effects specialist at Digital District, the shooting of the Last trip was able to start. “With them, I have the crazy ambition to do Last trip a different cinema proposition, specifies the filmmaker. Please note, I have absolutely nothing against French comedy, intimate auteur films or social films. But sometimes it is good to have the freedom to think outside the box of French cinema. Even if it took me a mad rage to achieve it.“
What we understand through the words of Romain Quirot is that this atypical film was in itself a great journey. “I am as sincere as possible in The Last Trip. I put everything. “
Flying cars? A child’s fascination!
What about flying cars? “A child’s fascination, the filmmaker answers tac-au-tac. When I was little, in the future I was shown, futuristic cars were meant to fly, they weren’t meant to be electric! When we shot in Morocco, I didn’t have much choice. For the short film, I used an old Simca. There, when I came across this Peugeot 504, I immediately found that it had an interesting look. It was immediately a beautiful image of cinema. I did not want to copy the American imagery of Blade runner, or the Delorean of Back to the future … ”And rockets? “For me, they look like Tintin’s, or better than those imagined by Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles, admits the director. I want to move away from American iconography to play with the symbols of a certain French pop culture. ”
When he stages a disused cinema, the last refuge of art lost in the middle of the desert, not only does he summon the memory of The last session by Eddy Mitchell, but he imagines the cinema as a refuge, as a window on the world before. “In the empty cinema room where they find shelter, he explains, the characters unwittingly trigger the projection of a piece of film in which the protagonists watch the past splendor of a lost flora and fauna. It is obvious that my film is an ecological fable. But with covid, this sequence suddenly took on a whole new resonance, a higher dimension that may seem visionary. Cinema as the last escape.“
Is he aware of having been inspired by a cult scene from the film Green Sun by Richard Fleischer, a sort of ancestor of ecological anticipation films? “Green Sun is obviously one of the films that marked me as a kid, he admits. Here, the reference to the sequence of the euthanasia of the grandfather who is shown a film about what the earth was before the man massacred it was unconscious. But I find that this film is always so chilling in the accuracy of its subject.“
Finally, should we see in the role of the scientist played by Jean Reno, a nod to Elon Musk? “Of course, concludes Romain Quirot. This character also has an absolute ego. He wants to push the search for energy further, beyond the Earth. He dreams of abandoning it after emptying it of its substance and starting to colonize Mars. This expansion of humanity is frightening. But I believe that the younger generations do not hear it that way. The new generation must be able to say no to the one before it, and take over on the issue of climate issues. I realize that today’s teens are much more engaged than I am at their age … and maybe that’s what will save us.“