Romain Gavras is a renowned French director, who made his name with commercials and music videos, including the hugely controversial ‘Born Free’ for M.I.A. His first feature film was 2010’s Our Day Will Come, starring Vincent Cassel. He returns with The World Is Yours, an exhilarating gangster comedy starring Cassel, Isabelle Adjani and Karim Leklou as a low-level drug dealer who wants to go legit.
ASFF: What attracted you to the gangster genre?
RG: A lot of filmmakers, especially my generation, are attracted to making a gangster film. Just because of the colourful characters. Usually, they glamourise “gangsterism”, making it more mysterious and romantic than it is. But real life is way more funny and absurd. Our way was to twist it, to make it hyper-reality – just enough that it’s still credible.
ASFF: The title is a reference to Scarface, right?
RG: Yes. But there’s a vibe in the film that’s almost opposite to Scarface. Scarface, for the youth and for my generation even the younger generation, is still an iconic film. The [Brian] De Palma one. And so our character doesn’t want to rule the world and have guns… he just wants a normal house. He has a very normal dream, and all around him it’s the opposite – it’s people who want the world.
ASFF: How did you work with Isabelle Adjani on playing this her character?
RG: I love working with the actors on the characters. Since Isabelle got on board, it was the idea to over-stylise her, to make her like this bad-ass Versaci Mum! She was really into it. With my costume designer and Isabelle, we went to choose the clothes. It was a fun thing to do. She also knows that kind of styling, and she just had a lot of fun. She kept almost all the clothes – that she’s not going to wear, I’m sure, but she has them.
ASFF: You feature a Scottish gangster and his daughter in the film. Why cast Sam Spruell? He’s not from there, right?
RG: He’s not but his Dad is Scottish; his accent is good! But we found the little girl [Gabby Rose] first. She is Scottish. She’s never acted before and she was so amazing… I liked her so much. We cast in Ireland, England and Scotland – it was Scotland that we found her. She’s from Glasgow.
ASFF: It’s been a long time since your feature debut, 2010’s Our Day Will Come. Why did it take so long to make a second feature?
RG: Because I’m lazy! I like the short format. I like making music videos and I do commercials as well. For a year or two, I got a bit too greedy with commercials and was hammering them, doing them back to back. I have a daughter in London and I have to feed my daughter! I also have a film that was super-expensive that we didn’t manage to get made at some point. It was an English movie. I thought, ‘Maybe I could write my own twisted version of a blockbuster.’ It was in Afghanistan and the hero was an opium addict. It was my ego thinking, ‘Of course they’re going to love it and of course they’ll give me $20 million to make it!’ The script was pretty crazy; I don’t even know what I was thinking writing a script that expensive, that crazy. You need to be on a level of a super-established director to pull something off like that!
The World Is Yours is released in cinemas on 26 April. For more details, visit click here.