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Cannes Film Festival: Monia Chokri Takes Romantic Comedy to the Next Level with THE NATURE OF LOVE


The Nature of Love (Simple Comme Sylvain) participated in this year’s Un Certain Regard category in Cannes. Monia Chokri tells the story of Sophia, a 40-year-old philosophy professor who is in a stable and socially-conforming relationship with Xavier. Sylvain is a craftsman, renovating Sophia and Xavier’s new country house. When Sophia and Sylvain meet, Sophia’s world is turned upside down. Opposites attract, but can they last? Chokri tells us all about her new feel-good romantic comedy.

AM: Why a romantic comedy for your latest project?  
MC: I really wanted to do a love story for my second screenplay. You know when you're on Facebook and people ask if you have any recommendations for a love film? People like love stories and they want to watch it again and again. But when I write, I don't think that I want to do a comedy, a drama or whatever. My film can touch on different styles. It’s people or distribution companies who define your film. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it a horror movie? Sometimes we can be in a comedy scene that evolves into a dramatic scene at once. I don't have any boundaries nor restrictions on how I can tell a story. Life is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and I try to show that in my films.

AM: Did you have an actor in mind when you started writing?  
MC: When I write I never have someone in mind because I want to make the character exist on its own, and I don’t like to put the character in a box. My desire can differ. Writing takes a lot of time, and by the time I finish the story, the person I might have had in mind could change.

The main actress is my best friend and she's a wonderful artist and a star in our country. I remember when she first read the script, she came to me to say that she would love to play the part. I was afraid that our friendship would interfere in the work relationship but it was the opposite actually, I didn't know that we could love each other even more.

AM: The movie has a vintage feel, like it’s pre-internet…
MC: I like the idea that they didn't have any cellphones. I don't find it very charming to see a screen or phone on cinema. In the country side, where the film takes place, you don't have so much access to internet so it was easier for me to put this out of my film.

AM: And what about the love triangle?
MC: The structure is very classical, something like the title in French, Simple As Sylvain. I wanted something very easy to understand and to digest as a as a viewer. You know that probably at the end it won’t work but you still enjoy it.

AM: What's the key to writing a powerful female character as we've seen in all your movies?
MC: I think the fact that I come from Canada, where equality between men and women is one of the most advanced in the world, enables me to create a liberated female character. For me they are normal women who I can meet any day in my country. So, it's nice that I can share it with the world and say: Hey, you know what? We can also live like that, and we can have this freedom.