Interview: Pierre Richard
Interview: Nino Kirtadze
Director Nana Djordjadze
"A CHEF IN LOVE"
The 1920's fascinate me: it was a very rich and eventful period in the history of my country, Georgia, which I evoked in my earlier film, ROBINSONADA. It was an important time because it was marked by a great artistic explosion and by the revolt of the have-nots against the "intellectuals" who controlled their lives. The Georgian people went through these difficult times with typical humor, vivacity and love of life, qualities which have enabled the country to conserve its cultural identity through many trials and tribulations. Irakli Kvirikadze's script is a homage to these qualities. His style is close to my own because each dramatic situation is tinged with humor.
A CHEF IN LOVE is not a nostalgic look at a bygone age. It deals with issues which are relevant to the world today and emphasizes the power of ideas to overcome oppression. Political violence is also the degradation of the sense of taste and beauty: eating isn't just about filling your stomach, it's a rite. Pascal Ichac is profoundly attached to these values. His two loves, of cooking and a woman, makes it impossible to destroy him. He can be physically eliminated but his spirit lives on. At the end of the film, he has nothing and yet he has everything because his faith in beauty, love and poetry is intact and unshakable.
I met Pierre Richard in Moscow at a reception we organized in honor of about fifteen French actors. I was at a table with Pierre and when I talked to him about A CHEF IN LOVE, he just cried out: "That's a role for me."
I thought it was an offhand remark but I soon discovered that Pierre was totally serious. He was so keen on the project that I called Irakli in Los Angeles and told him to start writing immediately. Marc Ruscart came on as producer, and we got down to work.
At first, I was very nervous because I didn't know how Pierre functioned on set. In fact, he was unassuming, perceptive, cheerful, very cooperative and able to improvise at the drop of a hat. He never complained if I wanted to do another take and was often the one who suggested it whenever he felt I wasn't totally satisfied. He was very easy and rewarding to work with.
A man who has traveled all over the world, like Pascal Ichac, has obviously met many different, beautiful and exotic women on the way. But just like everybody else, he's looking for someone like himself, a soul mate. His incredibly sensitive sense of smell finally leads him to the perfect woman, one who will complete him.
For the role of Cecilia, I chose Nino Kirtadze, a Georgian journalist, with just a few small movie roles to her credit but a lot of experience in avant-garde theater. I had met her completely by chance and was immediately struck by her radiant smile. Her eyes are dark pools of mystery; her movements can be brusque almost, but childlike and sensual at the same time. I was drawn to Nino by her femininity, her aura. I was convinced that she and Pierre would make a believable couple on screen, two people going to the very end of where their passion takes them.