, ,

Sophie Lorain's 'Slut in a Good Way' re-imagines the teen sex comedy

Sophie Lorain's 'Slut in a Good Way' re-imagines the teen sex comedy

Since the 80s, the teen sex comedy has been a staple of the comedy genre. A youthful reinterpretation of the class screwball genre, navigating sex and relationships can lead to madcap fun and emotional outbursts. But the genre also changes with the times, reflecting teens' evolving views of sex and social norms. This year at the Tribeca Film Festival, French-Canadian actress Sophie Lorain brought her sophomore film to audiences with the premiere of Slut in a Good Way (Charlotte a du Fun). The French language film tells the story of three lifelong girlfriends, Charlotte (Marguerite Bouchard), Megane (Romane Denis) and Aube (Rose Adam), who take jobs at the “Toy Depot” where a plethora of teenage boys work alongside them. With cultural references ranging from Carmen and Lysistrata to video games and Bollywood, this film conceals its timely social message about sex and female empowerment under film full of warmth and humor.

Lesley Coffin: Were you thinking about any teen sex comedies from the past while developing the film?

Sophie Lorain: Not really, because they aren’t that common in my part of the world. I just knew I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted a film that dealt with these issues in a more poetic style. And I wanted to use actresses who were close in age to the characters in the movie, between 16 and 18, so I knew I didn’t want to be vulgar or provocative. And I wanted something that felt esthetically beautiful and visually youthful.

Lesley Coffin: Were there times when you pulled back to avoid vulgarity?

Sophie Lorain: The way it was written was a bit more in-your-face, but I didn’t particularly want to go there. I didn’t want these young actresses to be bashed for the soul purpose of doing something shocking. I wanted the dialogue to come through to audiences as something really beautiful and funny, and I wanted to show the healthy side of sex. I didn’t want audiences and critics to first and foremost pay attention to the raunchiness of film. Particularly coming out after the Me Too movement has begun, I wanted a film which gave young people hope that sex can be fun and healthy. It’s a part of how we enjoy life.

A film still from SLUT IN A GOOD WAY. Photo credit: Laurent GuÈrin.

Lesley Coffin: The film certainly looks great considering the use of lightening and your decision to use black and white cinematography, which is especially unique in a comedy. What concepts for the visuals ideas for the film and references did you have going into this production?

Sophie Lorain: I made several decision along the way. From the first moment I read the script, I loved the idea that the whole thing was taking place in a toy store. Because these are young people with one foot in adulthood, getting jobs and making money, but one foot in childhood at this toy store. I liked that concept, but there’s nothing uglier than a toy store. It’s an orgy of colors and textures. And we didn’t have the money in our budget to create a high concept, beautiful toy store. And didn’t want people to be visually fighting with what the girls were saying but distracted by all the toys in the background. So, that’s the reason we decided to shoot in black and white, to allow the dialogue to come forward. Because that’s what these girls do, they talk and talk. And I didn’t want the film to feel stamped by 2018, I wanted something that can be watched five years from now and not be distracted by a time stamp. And they’re watching a black and white YouTube clip (a performance by Maria Callas) and I wanted to match those visuals with the film. I was very inspired by French noir from the 30s and 40s, so I wanted the texture of the film to be very, very nice. And I was very inspired by the lighting in those films.

Lesley Coffin: What inspired you to add that visual and auditory element of them watching the performance of of the song “L’amour est un Oiseau Rebelle”?

Sophie Lorain: The girls are smoking pot and having fun in that part, but I wanted each of the girls to stand out and be tagged with something that you could see their futures. And one of them reads George Orwell, one of them is a revolutionary, and Charlotte loves this music. Because I didn’t want these girls to feel one-dimensional, I wanted them to have adult interests. By having Maria Callas, although they call her Maria something, I felt we were planting a seed of curiosity about culture that does not surround them but intrigues them. And Charlotte discovered her, without knowing anything about her importance, because the song interests her and she relates to what she’s saying. And I also liked that while teenage girls will come and see the film, if they come with their parents, they’ll appreciate the cultural references these girls are starting to appreciate.

Lesley Coffin: Considering your own career as an actress, what experiences have you used from your own career to work with the actors and actresses you cast?

Sophie Lorain: I feel that’s my greatest advantage as a director, I know what I want to see and I feel from performances and I’m confident I can get it out of them. On this film it was difficult because they were quite young and didn’t have a great deal of experience. And not in a movies where they have to hold the story from beginning to end, they’d done TV shows before. But we did a lot of work together, we did several table readings and rehearsals to get them there. The way I shot the film, I didn’t use a lot of cuts within scenes, so they knew they would be performing entire scenes and that I wouldn’t be going back to shoot a lot of close-ups and crafting their performances from multiple takes. And I think they initially found that hard and demanding, but think it ultimately paid off because it shows how good they are. And I wanted to have three girls who were very different but were a believable trio. And I’m so happy that I ensemble girls who had chemistry on and off the screen that I think audiences can sense. But I was very demanding of them, and I also realize comedies can be harder than drama.

Lesley Coffin: The film is a comedy, but regarding the message of the film, it’s very timely, especially with the social media campaigns we have now about sexual assault and sexual harassment. And the film feels very empathetic towards both teen girls and teen boys. What do you feel needs to be said to teens about sex and gender relationships at this point in time?

Sophie Lorain: The boys are not the enemy in the film. They are doing what they’ve been doing for a hundred years and things seem easy for them in some ways because girls haven’t always felt entitled to their own sexuality and impulses. So it was very important to me that we handle sexuality in the film carefully, because I don’t want critics to come up to me and say the films just meant to be shocking or call the girls vulgar. I wanted the young girls to be able to project themselves on these three girls and notice the resemblance of what they go through in their own lives. And the boys aren’t the enemy, we’re just saying “enjoy youth, enjoy your life. Be responsible and try to differentiate between love and sex.” But I didn’t want a film to be all about the message, that’s why we had to blend it with the comedy. And that’s why the esthetics and lightness of being was important, because this is a film about celebrating the joy and fun of youth.

(C) Lesley Coffin (5/9/18) FF2 Media

A film still from SLUT IN A GOOD WAY. Photo credit: Laurent GuÈrin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *