I’m not sure I will do it next time. I was on the jury in Cannes this year, probably two or three weeks after I finished my final mix. Watching some really interesting movies, I realized, oh, you can do whatever you want if you follow something real and I do not think I knew that.
What was the hardest part about customizing?
I found that the adaptation actually used a muscle similar to the one I used as an actor in getting a text, whether it is great or has problems, and to understand the essence of this material. There are some things that are literal, but they are so strange. Like the line, “I’m an unnatural mother.” This is only 100 percent Ferrante, a straight lift, but a lot of people told me, get this line out. I also did what I really did [Ferrante permitted] and it changed a lot, a lot of things, but I really think the script and the movie are really in conversation with the book.
Leda is a writer and showing her ambitions in her early years is a big part of the film. Saw “Bergman Island” This year; Both films struggle with the question of whether you can be a complete woman and an artist at the same time.
I believe that there is such a thing as women’s writing and women’s film production. There are some really interesting feminists who disagree with me. I think when women express themselves honestly, it looks different than when men express themselves honestly. It’s really dangerous to talk about it. When they set me free, they give me little money and space to tell the story I want to tell, it has to do with motherhood. It is for the home, and includes many scenes in the kitchen. Can domestic stories really be considered high art? Because for me it is an opera. I do not come from women whose apron cords were tied in the kitchen. My mom is a professional [Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal is a screenwriter and director], my grandmother was a pediatrician in the ’40s and my great-grandmother was a lawyer. I’m educated and have a professional life, and yet my identification as a mother is a huge part of myself.
What was it like working with Olivia Colman?
Olivia really did not want to talk about much. I wonder, in fact, if it is because it was relatively recently that he gained strength as an actor, if he feels similar to the way I feel as an actor, which is very rare for anyone to appreciate my ideas. They will say they do, but people are annoyed by actors with a lot of ideas. I’m not stupid, so I keep it mostly to myself. I remember asking Olivia if she liked rehearsing, and she said I’m not doing it, really, and I’m totally into it.
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