On Connait la Chanson

France

Synopsis

Simon is secretly in love with Camille.

Following a lisunderstanding, Camille falls in love with Marc.

Marc, a charming estate agent and Simon's boss, is trying to sell an apartment to Odile, Camille's sister.

Odile is determined to buy the apartment, despite the silent disapproval of her husband Claude.

Claude, an apparently insignificant man, looks unfavourably on the re-appearance of Nicolas after many long years.

Nicolas, Odile's old friend, becomes Simon's confidant ...

Directors Statement

How did SAME OLD SONG come about ?

Alain Resnais : After SMOKING and NO SMOKING, Bruno Pésery asked me to film an opera written for the big screen. It probably would have been easy to finance the project in English but I felt that my knowledge of the language was insufficient for such an undertaking. I therefore looked for an alternative. During the work on the adaptation of INTIMATE EXCHANGES, the series of plays by Alan Ayckbourn that led to SMOKING and NO SMOKING, I had become close friends with Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri. I admired the musicality of their dialogue and their performances on stage and screen. I therefore asked them if they would be interested in writing a screenplay. They replied that they would but, having not appeared in our two "twin films", they didn't want to write for other actors than themselves. This suited me perfectly. We then spent three or four afternoons talking about characters, outlines, what we wanted or didn't want to do on film We ferreted through my subject box. I think I even gave the "Jaoui-Bacris" a totally outrageous half-hour improvisation, a little like automatic writing, that I had recorded on audio tape.
The theme of the outer appearances that we wear throughout our lives rose to the surface along with other elements, like a guide and her visits and the psychology of the hermit crab. Then, as I am a great admirer of the English writer Dennis Potter, I showed them extracts from his TV-films. In some of them, the characters regularly lip-synch to popular songs. And gradually, the outline of the film came into shape. The challenge was the following: how not to copy Potter, given my passion for his work ?
We therefore decided to use French songs rooted in an everyday climate, excluding any notion of fantasy. The songs, with two or three exceptions, don't describe the characters' imaginary world either.
Nicole Vedres, with whom I worked as an assistant in 1947 on PARIS MIL NEUF CENT, told me one day that the novel, in its descriptions of love and its melodies, could never match so-called popular or music-hall songs. And I've often noticed that popular songs accompany the acts of our everyday lives. If we behaved at all naturally, we'd use song lyrics in conversation.

In your mind and that of the writers, does the choice of song extracts for the action provide a sort of anthology of French song ?

Alain Resnais : No, definitely not. We didn't aim to have a balanced mix, either on a chronological level or according to the number of songs by a single performer. The songs that we used are those that came to us naturally, through an association of ideas. Most of the extracts are very short, sometimes cut in the middle, corresponding to the way our minds work (we rarely remember a whole chorus and even more rarely a verse). But other extracts are longer. We didn't set ourselves strict limits.

The members of the audience will probably react differently according to whether they know the songs or not.

Alain Resnais : We wanted a large number of hits (in particular, so that the audience wouldn't think that the songs had been written for the film) but you can sense a hit even if you've never heard it before. I knew nothing of some of the songs suggested by Agnès Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri but if I felt that they were hits when listening to them, I'd immediate endorse them.

Your love of musicals is well known and yet it hard to find an allusion to the genre in SAME OLD SONG

Alain Resnais : I was particularly determined not to stray into that area. A musical almost always contains dancing or at least movements and gestures by actors to evoke dancing. Once again, we were aiming for more everyday style. We wanted the songs to enter the scenes without any warning. If the audience, even only once or twice, could forget that it was hearing a song and think that the words were dialogue, then we would be happy.

Director's Biography

Filmography:
1948 VAN GOGH
1950 GUERNICA, co-directed with Robert Hessens
1953 LES STATUES MEURENT AUSSI, co-directed with Chris Marker
1955 NUIT ET BROUILLARD
1956 TOUTE LA MEMOIRE DU MONDE
1958 LE CHANT DU STYRENE
1959 HIROSHIMA, MON AMOUR
1961 LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD
1963 MURIEL
1966 THE WAR IS OVER
1967 FAR FROM VIETNAM, collective film
1968 JE T'AIME, JE T'AIME
1974 STAVISKY ...
1976 PROVIDENCE
1980 MY AMERICAN UNCLE
1983 LIFE IS A BED OF ROSES
1984 L'AMOUR A MORT
1986 MELO
1989 I WANT TO GO HOME
1991 GERSHWIN
1993 SMOKING and NO SMOKING
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Alain Resnais

Written by: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Agnès Jaoui

Produced by: Bruno Pesery

Cinematography: Renato Berta

Editing: Hervé de Luze

Production Design: Jacques Saulnier

Costume Design: Jackie Budin

Hair & Make-up: Jackie Reynal

Original Score: Bruno Fontaine

Main Cast: Pierre Arditi (Claude), Sabine Azéma (Odile Lalande), Jean-Pierre Bacri (Nicolas), Andre Dussolier (Simon), Agnès Jaoui (Camille Lalande), Lambert Wilson (Marc Duveyrier)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Screenwriter 1998
  • EFA Feature Film Selection 1998