After Cambodia in Diamond Island, Davy Chou settled in South Korea for Retour à Seoul, where Freddie, 25 and adopted daughter of a French couple, is returning to her native country for the first time. The young woman – a complex character embodied by Park Ji-min – sets off with ardor in search of her origins in this foreign country, deconstructing her identity in order to better reconstruct it and tipping her life in new and unexpected directions. .In Cannes, after the premiere of the film, we met this revelation with incredible energy. She talked to us about latex, contradictions and dancing to death.Konbini | What memories do you have of your arrival in France? See also on KonbiniPark Ji-min | I have a very specific story in mind. I remember that we had a stopover in Hong Kong and with my older brother, we had very heavy backpacks that our parents, who were intellectual hippies, had prepared for us. I had just bought some stickers during the stopover and when I put them away in my bag, I realize that there are only books inside. When I think about it today, I say to myself that the weight of these books was so significant of all the cultural and even patriarchal weight that my father wanted to instill in us. We left everything to come and settle in France and in our bags, there were only books that my father made us carry. What was your background once you arrived in France? I was nine years old when I arrived in France so I finished my primary school, I did my college, my high school then I joined khâgne and hypokhâgne but I skipped school a lot. Then I returned to the Arts Déco in Paris. It was a bit obvious to be an artist because I’ve always been immersed in it. My father was a writer, my mother was also an artist. She did painting and engraving. My parents were very cinephiles when I think about it, especially my father. He made me see incredible films very young, as brilliant as funny. Some traumatized me a bit… It’s not a masterpiece, but I remember a film with Juliette Binoche and Jeremy Irons, Fatale. Jeremy Irons plays the father of Juliette Binoche’s new husband and they are going to have an affair. I particularly remember the final scene when the son catches them having sex and in shock falls down the stairs. I must have been six years old. He also showed me a lot of Hong Sang-soo movies and all Hayao Miyazaki movies. I don’t regret it because it left me with very striking images. I was forbidden from dolls at home, the only toys I had were chess, Korean Lego or comic books. I grew up in a very intellectual environment. “We left everything to come and settle in France and in our bags there were only books that my father made us carry.” I learned that you were fan of Cronenberg? I don’t like all of his films, but there are some that I really like, like Crash. In my work, I am very interested in all that is contradictory. I consider myself full of paradoxes and I find that Cronenberg’s films are the meeting of these paradoxical worlds, the natural and the supernatural, the machine and the Man. There are states of weirdness that are created when such extreme worlds come together and try to live together. The monstrosity and the bestiality he treats fascinate me. You must have liked Titanium, then? I haven’t seen it, unfortunately. You are a visual artist. Can you tell us about your work? I am nourished by many things because we live in a society where images, sounds and information proliferate. We are a generation that has a lot to store and therefore to externalize with our own filter. There are several things that inhabit me and I work a lot with latex which is a very organic material. It is also a living material, which ages, changes and is used for special effects on the skin in cinema. It refers to human flesh and therefore to what separates our interior from the outside world. I am full of contradictions because I am inhabited by a double culture. I lived longer in France than in Korea but I received a more Korean than French education. It was very important to my parents that I write and read Korean. But these are thought trajectories that are so opposite that it’s sometimes a bit of a mess in my head. When there are so many extremes coming together, it can create things that are a bit explosive and uncontrollable. These states of contradiction interest me a lot. So it wasn’t at all planned for you to become an actress? Not at all. My meeting with Davy Chou happened through an artist friend, Erwan Ha Kyoon Larcher. They met at the Locarno festival in 2019 and Davy talked to her a lot about his screenplay because Erwan is French of Korean origin and was adopted. He therefore suggested that he meet me because he found that there were a lot of common character traits between me and the character of Freddie. I went there to meet someone new and talk about Korean culture. We were just supposed to have a coffee in Belleville and, in the end, we talked for three hours. Davy offered me to do a test, I hesitated for a very long time and then I ended up going. Everything then happened very quickly, I had great moments of doubt, but over time, confidence was established. We did a huge job on the script and the character of Freddie together and I thank him for being humble enough to let go of a lot of things. It was very hard, there were tears. Davy had to do a lot of deconstruction work because he is a man portraying a woman. I told him that he could never put himself in a woman’s shoes and he had to give way to women’s voices to write a story that made sense. “I am full of contradictions because I am inhabited by a double culture and these states of contradiction interest me a lot.” So you put a double energy into this project, to write the screenplay and as an actress? Yes, but without that, I wouldn’t have made the film .And then, everything was done on instinct? Yes, because I really recognized myself in the character of Freddie. We don’t have the same story at all, but his character and his emotions resonated with me. It helped me a lot to play this character because I don’t have any technique. Were there particularly difficult scenes? For me, the difficulty was more the pressure on set than the acting. We often lack time and sometimes you have thirty people looking at you and waiting for you… Have you thought of a particular actor or actress? Gena Rowland in A Woman Under the Influence. The power of this character and this woman is crazy! But it’s thanks to her and not just the role written by her husband, John Cassavetes. Without her, the film could have been very cliché. That goes back to what we were saying earlier about men who write portraits of women. Finally, what else can you tell us about yourself? I love dancing so the dance scene n was not choreographed at all. It is vital for me. I go out dancing all the time, I love going into a trance and dancing for a very long time, especially to techno music. It may be a little too much, but when I dance, I am so full that I sometimes think that I could die and that I would be happy. Interview by Louis Lepron at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022.
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