Acclaimed director François Ozon returns to the big screen with his powerful drama which sees three men who take on the Catholic Church after being abused by a priest still actively working with children.
We spoke to actor Denis Ménochet about his role in By The Grace of God.
How are you doing today?
I’m very good – the weather is awful though.
How do you feel about bringing this incredible film to the UK?
It’s an amazing film and I am very proud of it. The reaction from the public has been outstanding and at every Q&A, everyone stays and wants to talk about it.
What drew you to the project?
François Ozon. I was in my house and he called me up one day, spoke to me about these three guys in Lyon who stood up against the Catholic Church. The case blew me away and I was immediately on-board. It was a no brainer.
How difficult is it portraying a real life character in such a sensitive story?
It is more about the fight. They are still out there and standing up for what is right. They put their families on the line, becoming famous for this protest as children who were abused. That was the energy we wanted to focus on. Not some biopic or continuation of these characters.
Did you work with the real François?
I did but I didn’t want to intimidate him. We actually filmed sequences in his house so he was very open. But I didn’t want it to be embarrassing as it still has relevance to his life.
How does the story balance this hatred of the acts with characters who still have profound faith?
Good question. In a sense, religion and Catholicism are different from faith. The Catholic Church can be a cult and does abuse whereas faith is another thing that helps people. There are amazing people who will do the right things that are part of the Catholic faith.
How did you develop the dynamic with the other lead actors Melvil Poupaud and Swann Arlaud?
We got to work very early on together. The dinner scene was the first one we shot which made us really focused on the three men and determined to make this the best shot possible. WE won the Grand Jury Prix in Berlin and the Catholic Church tried to block the film. We got very drunk after and we really bonded.
What was it like working with François Ozon?
He is lovely. He is operating the camera and directing at the same time. There was no real time to explain everything which can be frustrating but makes a great energetic shoot.
By the Grace of God is out in cinemas and Curzon Home Cinema