Interview with Noemie Merlant (Supporting Actress)
How did you prepare for this role?
We watched videos of that time with the director, to see how women would speak, and express themselves. There were a lot of rehearsals, we had to find the right gestures: rather packed, revolted, awkward in that desire to be attractive and for protecting themselves from others. For Brigitte, it was necessary to find her very own way to express herself. A revolt, but anchored in its time with a language that’s a little different from today. It was also necessary to build her own way to talk to strangers, her mother and men, which is very different each time. Since Brigitte trusts neither herself nor the others, her only way to express herself is either by flirting with men to satisfy her need for love, tenderness… or with her anger towards the others. She truly loves her mother and she’s afraid she might not receive the love and the approving gaze she needs. She’s a disturbed girl, beaten by her stepfather. She must get back on her feet and eventually, the friendship she builds with the other girls - girls who look at her differently – will help her grow. In this revolt of women, she finds her place, and she finally speaks out.
What did attract you of the movie to take part of the project?
This television film is a true film, with a very well written script, fantastic characters, and beautiful directing from Bénédicte Delmas. Thus, it feels good to see that television can create this kind of jewel. In addition to being a beautiful film, I think that it deals about an important topic of history and unfortunately remains a topical issue: the role of women in society. This film is a way to thank these women who fought for our freedom, it is a way to pay homage to them. It is a duty of memory and it is about remembering that the fight continues, all over the world. In Poland, they were talking about banning abortion again, it is unacceptable. Thus, we must recall history over and over.
Do you think young mothers still suffer discrimination in French society even after the victory of the Plessis' girls?
Yes. Less than they used to, but they still do. Mothers and women in general. I’m not saying that fathers do not suffer, they do for other reasons, like being excluded from the children related choices or the custody. But women and mothers have a lot of difficulties at work, and in some families where the influence of the family and the fathers is always important, regardless of the laws. Luckily, this has changed quite a bit since then, but there is always work to do to preserve one’s assets. For instance, there is still work to do about the equal pay.
Your character (Brigitte) passes from being a difficult person to deal with to a loving woman, how would you describe that transition?
Since she has low self-esteem, she needs love but she does not get this love of her mother, even less from her stepfather who beats her, and her father isn’t there anymore. Therefore, she reacts aggressively, towards others and even herself. She is on the defensive. Then, with the other girls, who are actually is in the same situation as Brigitte and look at her differently, she finds her place, comes out of her shell and starts to gain confidence. She understands that she can use this revolt by taking things further, by speaking out and by fighting. She gets love and gives some in return. She feels useful. Life takes on meaning and she understands – a bit painfully - that the love from her a mother isn’t the only one she can get and that she must carry on alone.
What advice would you give to young mothers facing the challenges of Brigitte?
It is complicated to give advice. The only piece of advice I can give is: love, and dialogue. You must communicate. And if you can’t do it anymore, feel free to ask for help.
Are you working on any projects at the moment? Can you tell us something about them?
I acted in a movie that just came out: Heaven Will Wait, by Marie Castille Mention Schaar with Sandrine Bonnaire. It is about girls who are recruited by Daesh and it deals about the process of rehabilitation, and the parents’ loneliness. I recently played in Plonger by Mélanie Laurent and I am rehearsing for a feature film but I can’t say anything more at the moment.
Return to Young Mothers in the 70s