Premiere of the film “You will remember me” at the French Film Week

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The Canadian production also celebrated its premiere in Germany as part of the French Film Week. The presentations in Berlin took place on 24th and 25th of November 2023, while the premiere in Munich took place a day later. Director Éric Tessier and lead actor Rémy Girard travelled all the way from Canada and were delighted with the keen interest in the story of emeritus university professor Édouard, who gradually loses his memory.

At first glance, the entire story seems to be centred around the protagonist’s Alzheimer’s disease. As a former history professor, Édouard has an excellent memory for historical events, facts and figures. It is his short-term memory that increasingly lets him down and causes him to forget everyday things, which not only affects his life, but also that of his family. He no longer knows what he had for breakfast after just a few minutes, recognises his wife and daughter less often and can no longer live alone without help. This results in various family tensions that are dealt with in the film. However, if you take a closer look, you will discover the many nuances of the film’s depth. Director Éric Tessier succeeds in touching on different levels and not only focussing on Édouard and his illness, but also on all those involved with their needs and feelings. “I wasn’t interested in showing the typical clinical picture or the ideal way to deal with it. Rather, I wanted to take a different perspective and show how the disease throws all areas of life out of balance and how everyone involved deals with it. Édouard’s Alzheimer’s is like a stone thrown into the water. It causes ripples on the surface that continue to spread. These ripples symbolise the effects of his illness on himself and his family,” explains Éric Tessier.

A strong cast of characters

The film is based on a play by Canadian author François Archambault, which fell into Éric Tessier’s hands through a friend and immediately captivated him. After just a few pages, he is certain that he wants to bring the story to the screen. The actor Rémy Girard seemed to be the ideal choice for the lead role, who was immediately enthusiastic about the plot. “When I read the script for the first time, I was moved by the touching story and could immediately identify with Édouard. I saw his Alzheimer’s disease as a particular challenge. I also process personal experiences in my play, as both my father and my grandmother were affected by the disease,” explains the protagonist. Rémy Girard is a cast member who seems to effortlessly manage to play the tragedy of the story with a generous dash of humour. “I believe that humour is always an important companion in life. In my role, I want to give the viewers of the film the message that they should never lose their sense of humour, no matter how difficult life feels at the time,” explains Rémy Girard. One example of this is the scene in a restaurant. During a dinner with his daughter and her partner, Édouard orders another bottle of wine. He comments on the fact that it is already the third: “That’s the good thing about my illness: for me, every glass of wine tastes like the first”. This attitude testifies to a life-affirming and positive basic attitude of not losing sight of the positive things in life under the given circumstances.

A special relationship

The film shows two strong characters, Édouard and Berenice, who could hardly be more different. The young woman is the daughter of his son-in-law-to-be, who has so far gone through life without a concrete plan. Nevertheless, or perhaps precisely because of this, they share a special relationship that becomes increasingly profound as the film progresses. They are like two travellers setting off from different points in their lives. While Édouard wonders what is left of his life, Berenice asks herself what she actually wants from life. The actors also met on an extraordinary level from the very first moment. “The first day of filming was also our first meeting. I was impressed by her and her strong performance right from the start. This young woman can convey so much charisma and depth!” says Rémy Girard about his fellow actress Karelle Tremblay.

Playing with contrasts

Éric Tessier plays with contrasts and in this way gives the characters depth. He also experiments with provocations that would probably provoke great indignation in reality. “In the film, Édouard’s wife Madeleine tells him that she wishes he were dead so that the suffering would end. She doesn’t actually want him to die, but rather to banish the illness from her life. However, as there is no prospect of his health improving, this opens up a major inner conflict between her own needs and vision of life and her feelings for the man she has spent her life with,” explains Éric Tessier. The breaking of supposed social taboos on screen is another aspect that makes the story so touching and unique at the same time.

Collective Alzheimer’s

What remains of each of us when we are gone? What do we pass on to the next generation? These are questions that each of us probably asks ourselves at least once in our lives as we search for the meaning of our earthly existence. The prospect of being forgotten fills many people with fear, so that they cling to their memories like a shipwrecked man clings to a piece of wood on the open sea. But what happens when we can no longer remember our own lives? The film “You will remember me” raises these questions and movingly encourages viewers to think about them. The focus is not just on the individual, but on people as a whole. “On a meta-level, Édouard’s Alzheimer’s stands for the collective disease of society. We all live mainly in the here and now. The abundance of information that comes at us every day, even every second, is so great that we can’t even process it. So what do we do with the past? We forget a lot,” says Éric Tessier. This film operates on so many levels that it will keep viewers busy for a long time afterwards.

Jana Volpers, freelance journalist