By Gary Kramer
French writer-director Fran'ois Ozon has worked with an enviable list of actresses: Catherine Deneuve in 8 Women, Charlotte Rampling in both Under the Sand and Swimming Pool, and in his latest film, Time to Leave, the legendary Jeanne Moreau. 'They are very clever and witty and know many things about life. You can learn a lot from them,' he says, noting that his fascination with telling stories with strong female characters 'comes from the dreams I had about Vivien Leigh when I was young. It's easier to do portraits of women.'
To his credit, Ozon never makes the same film twice. 'I do a film a year. What's important for me is to try something new each time,' he explains. 'I need to feel some desire, something exciting'a challenge. This time it was important for me to have a male character.'
In the elegant Time to Leave, hunky Melvil Poupaud (featured in the August issue of Out) stars as Romain, a gay man who learns he has cancer. 'I wanted to lose the clich' of 'gay and AIDS,' ' Ozon says. Romain seeks out his grandmother (Moreau) to talk over some decisions about his life.
The challenge of making Time to Leave was to create what Ozon describes as 'my own portrait'to have a mirror in front of me.' While the film is not autobiographical, 'it's close to my emotions,' he says. 'It's important to make movies about desire, and [to make] what you see on screen desirable.'
Ozon's longings are certainly clear: The film contains several erotic sequences, one involving Romain and his boyfriend, one in a sex club, and finally, a tender episode in which Romain has a threesome with a straight couple hoping to conceive a child.
The filmmaker jokes about wanting to 'make lots of babies' should he find himself in Romain's situation. Would he like to have kids? 'Not yet,' he responds, adding, 'But one day I would like to feel what it means to be a father.'