7:15 p.m., March 22, 2022
“I killed François Rouillac. And I come to make myself a prisoner. » Some films mark with a hot iron. Bruno Reidal, the UFO of Critics’ Week at the last Cannes Film Festival, is one of them. Because it tells how, in 1905 in Cantal, a 17-year-old seminarian, succumbing to an impulse, beheaded a 12-year-old child. A murder of incredible savagery that shook public opinion at the time.
A century later, Vincent Le Port transposes this incredible but true story and delivers a first film that impresses with its disturbing subject served by a clinical staging. A powerful, radical and frontal artistic manifesto which is in line with Michael Haneke or Bruno Dumont and borrows the form of historical drama rather than that of thriller. With the assassin himself as narrator, because he wrote his Memoirs during his incarceration.
“I was researching serial killers for a fictional script, says the director. In the course of my reading, I came across this now hidden affair. I found the 700-page report of the psychiatrists who treated Bruno Reidal, complete with photographs. I went to the municipal archives of Lyon to consult the Alexandre Lacassagne collection, the pioneer of criminal anthropology who encouraged the teenager to write his autobiography. Eleven school notebooks of 28 pages each, which I was able to obtain. »
He went to the place of the events, which occurred on September 1, 1905: Raulhac, an Auvergne village where he flushed out the victim’s grave in the cemetery. He says he was disappointed when he discovered the all-purpose profile of Bruno Reidal, a minor when he was arrested: “1.62 meters, 50 kilos, delicate appearance, weak build, narrow chest, slender musculature, thin and puny body. »“He was a solitary and introverted boy but with above average intellectual capacities, a top of the class, polite and wise, describes Vincent Le Port. He didn’t have the head for the job! Which makes his passage to the act staggering. Because he was not content to stab François Rouillac, there was a desire for total annihilation. I tried to understand his gesture. »
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Born in 1888 into a large and destitute family, he lives with alcoholic and violent parents, is marked by a banal scene in the rural world, the pig being slaughtered, to the point of harboring dark thoughts from the age of 6. year. Taciturn, he suppresses his emotions and takes refuge in religion, to the point of wanting to become a priest. But that doesn’t calm his unmentionable desires, which he thinks he can exorcise by masturbating. Until the day he was raped at age 12 by a shepherd.
“He didn’t try to shift the guilt onto anyone, emphasizes the filmmaker. He was not judged because declared insane, whereas he was however very lucid… Interned in the asylum of Aurillac, sickly and perhaps tuberculous, he died at 30 years old. We also know that he escaped for three days in 1913, but he did not reoffend. »
In the main role, Dimitri Doré distills a poisonous ambiguity, his crystalline and candid voice contrasting with the torments of his character. Who operates a stripping by signing his confession. “Dimitri managed to make me empathize with him and penetrate his fascinating and unique mechanics, which is disturbing”admits Vincent Le Port.
He thinks about his next project, again the reconstruction of a bloody news story but this time dating back to the 19th century: “A collective lynching that occurred in France during the war against Prussia. Good people in all respects have been carried away by the fury…” A deadly attraction for characters who switch to horror? He specifies : “I am interested in human tragedies, not in the enjoyment of evil. »