They are more or less 30 years old, working hard to build a peaceful existence and a decent career, foraging between a dinner of friends and a disappointing sentimental adventure around the Plateau Mont-Royal … and have no telephone. clever.
Are they extraterrestrials? No. Vincent, Marie, Simon, Claire and Jacques are the unforgettable characters of Life, life which, almost 20 years to the day after its fame at Radio-Canada, is currently being rebroadcast on ICI ARTV on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Stéphane Bourguignon had in his wallet two novels signed with his signature (The swallower of sand and The principle of the geyser) when, appearing out of nowhere or almost, he offered us in the winter of 2001 a first television series echoing the concerns of his generation.
A series which, barely broadcast, was already enriched by the suffix “cult” in the heart of its first followers. Thought for 39 episodes, not one more “blooper”. Who was going to collect Gemini, and whose slightly dramatic, slightly comical point would be relevant to any young adult of any era. And which would generate ratings proving that it was not just “the 30 years” watching her. In 2001-2002, many groups of friends met on Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m. to catch a glimpse of themselves on the screen.
His portrait of his thirties who struggles, Stéphane Bourguignon had imagined it by pecking the American drama Thirtysomething, from the early 1990s. At the end of the track, the two creations were not particularly alike, but that’s where the idea was born.
“I think people of my generation, at the time, it was the first time we saw each other on TV,” explains the author. The soap operas weren’t quite for us. We found ourselves there, with our concerns, in terms of content and container. It played a big role in the success of the series. ”
Both Bourguignon and Patrice Sauvé, so praised for his superb images of Montreal that we had rarely seen with so much splendor in a Quebec fiction – and who thus created a fashion for “urban” series, not yet faded -, the editor Michel Grou that the composer Luc Sicard furbished with Life, life their first weapons on the small screen, and had brought into the project their accumulated baggage in the cinema or elsewhere.
Already, while writing his texts, the writer imagined the slowed down or accelerated effects, the stops on images, the “flashbacks” which gave to Life, life its very particular aesthetic signature, which set a school. This kinship with other mediums, such as the music video, helped mark a television turning point for the age group targeted by the show, judge Stéphane Bourguignon.
“It’s as if we had just arrived in our time,” he illustrates.
In Life, life, no incredible stunts or large-scale scenes with an unlimited budget. That Vincent (Normand Daneau) who seeks to quit his lousy job as a clerk at his brother’s video club to emancipate himself as a screenwriter, Claire (Macha Limonchik) who can no longer bear impossible loves, Marie (Julie McClemens) and Simon (Patrick Labbé) who aspire to build a family and establish their nest, and Jacques (Vincent Graton), who wishes to spend sweet days with a serious companion, without constraints.
That “of the intimate”, maintains Stéphane Bourguignon. Not to be confused with “everyday life”.
“These people were not going through ordinary things. They lived simple things, but which demanded a lot, emotionally. They were all at a pivotal point in their lives, and they had to find a way to get past this stage, which was holding them back a bit. Me, I said that it was a series on the fact of growing up, evolving. Each of the characters had a particular knot and, over the 39 episodes, I lingered around turning around that knot and showing how the characters managed to overcome it. I think that’s why people liked the series: we really talked about the human being, all the things that “bug” us, the intimate challenges “, sums up the creator, who is currently working on other works for the small screen of which he can not say anything for the moment, after All on me (2006-2011) and Fatale-Station (2016).
Even today, Stéphane Bourguignon receives messages from people (of all ages) claiming to have watched for a second, third or tenth time. Life, life, long before we decide to replay the opus on television.
Box: They said …
Vincent Graton (Jacques): “The theme of Life, life, friendship, was very strong in itself. This unconditional love between five very different friends, but who have a loyalty and a welcome between them. There was talk of accepting homosexuality, of dreams to be achieved, and the dialogues were magnificent, filled with pearls and depth. I still have some lines in mind. Many gays have told me that they are happy to see a gay person not be interpreted in a mannered manner. “
Macha Limonchik (Claire): “People’s love for Life, life was very special. Those who liked Life, life love him for life, with an unfailing love. For some people, we will never be replaced by another show. From the start, we were convinced that we had in our hands something very, very rare, and very, very precious, new, and which had never happened visually. In 2021, these are themes that we should revisit on television: it is a series where there was not a lot of cynicism, with a lot of love and affection. “
Normand Daneau (Vincent): “Macha Limonchik and I had known each other for a few years when Life, life started, we had done theater together, with Robert Lepage. All the actors, we have become very close. It created a unique bond between us, which will always remain thanks to this program, of the order of the unsaid, of the lived. We see each other less now, we don’t call each other all the time, but we know that we have participated in something special together. When we see each other, it’s the same as the last time. “
Patrick Labbé (Simon): “We managed to do small miracles for not much. Instead of simply making banal settings, Patrice Sauvé (the director) orchestrated the choreography. We almost had to learn a dance to be able to do what he had in mind. It felt on screen. There was a dynamic there that was new, an artistic outlook, an attention to detail. My children have not seen Life, life; that ICI ARTV will rebroadcast it, it will allow them to see their father in a quality production. ”
Vincent Graton (Jacques): “My niece Rachel Graton, who is an actress, has a group of friends, and five people in the group have the same names as the characters. There is a Jacques, a Marie, a Simon … (laughs) “
Macha Limonchik (Claire): “After Life, life, unfortunately I haven’t had any offers at all on TV for years. It hasn’t really served me well in my television career. I think that, the girls, we had a lot more trouble finding a place than the boys. They continued a more important television career, and we, much less. “
Patrick Labbé (Simon): “As an actor, I had rarely had to play something so close to me and so real to interpret. It was the first time this had happened to me, such a momentum where I confused the character with the person that I am, as a human being. I found things in me, which inhabited me, of which I was perhaps not aware, but by the writing of Stéphane and the moments lived with the production, which woke up. I became a better man afterwards thanks to this character. ”
- Life, life, Wednesday, at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., at ICI ARTV.