After two dramadies that fit the “independent film blueprint” (Two Days in New York and Two Days in Paris), Delpy went in a completely different direction with her new comedy Lolo …a farce about a couple who meet cute at a spa (Delpy and Danny Boon)…and the narcissistic psychopath of a son Lolo (Vincent Lacoste) who want to break them up to keep his mother all for himself. Its a French farce.
Although she is an international star, Delpy originally imagined the film primarily as a film for French audiences. But the movie found international release, and is the first of her films to get past the Chinese censors and get an official release there (although through the beauty of pirating, she is well aware that was seen). It’s ironic that what is essentially a bawdy sex comedy could make it through the censors. After all, one of Delpy’s favorite lines in her movie translates to “as my grandmother used to say, boneheads bone better.” But she says the humor of that line doesn’t come from it being crude or explicit, but the irony of the source explaining “I just thought it would be a funny idea to imagine her grandmother saying something like that to her.”
Although the movie was embraced by French audiences, she knows it can be a struggle to get a movie like this seen. Although no more crude or explicit than a comedy by Judd Apatow or Paul Feig, Delpy is aware that “for some people it is harder to take that kind of humor from a woman, even if it isn’t that crude. Most people have accepted it, but it is disturbing to some and that’s okay. The movie isn’t, and wasn’t meant to be, all light and fluffy and cute. It is ultimately kind of dark and twisted. After all, her son is essentially a sociopath.”
And Lacoste is excellent as said sociopath, playing into the character’s charms which allow him to get away with such behavior. Delpy describes Lolo as “very playful and charming, because he’s a true narcissistic sociopath. His tricks aren’t obvious. He can see people’s weaknesses and uses them against them. He creates a slow, smart process for building this web of manipulation. He’ isn’t an outwardly abusive character that hits his mother or something. She is as charmed by his playfulness as everyone else.”
And Delpy adds that while he is ultimately cruel towards Boon’s awkward Jean-Rene, his aggressions start out more as mean spirited pranks, which was key to making Lolo a true farce, rather than a dark comedy. “You have to enjoy Lolo’s antics, at the same time that you hate what he’s doing to the character of Jean-Rene, who you should find very lovable. Because what Lolo is doing to Jean-Rene is bad, but it starts out also being funny. He puts itching powder on his clothing. He dresses him like a dork and talks him into taking an awkward selfie. It takes some time before he does something really terrible that will make you really dislike Lolo. But overall, If I had a friend like that, I would laugh and call those things pranks. If I were their mother I’d feel bad, but I have had friends who did pretty mean pranks like that and I found it to be funny and mean at the same time.”
And Delpy delights in playing a mess of a character as Violette, laughing that Lolo needed to get rid of only half her boyfriends…she got rid of the rest of them herself. And Violette is (at least partly) responsible or her son’s malfunction “Lolo is a farce so I always had to push things” says Delpy, “Violette puts her on such a pedestal, always believing him and taking his side, and he turns out to be this horrible sociopath.” That aspect of the story is the exaggerated farce, saying psychologically, smothering over-parenting doesn’t lead to sociopathic behavior, but there is some truth that helicopter parenting can be bad for kids. “The not leaving the nest and letting adult children stay at home is completely based on reality. Parents are so focused on being good and cool and seen as a friend by their children, their kids tend to linger a little too long. And Violette raised Lolo with a lot of guilt because she was a single, working mother. Trust me I know that is completely realistic. I feel guilty every time I’m away from my son. Even though I see he suffers far less being away from me than I do being away from him. I’ll be devastated over being away for a week, but he’ll just say “see ya in a week.”
“The thing about parenting is, how do you find the balance,” she added. “You want to tell your kids they’re brilliant. Because there is nothing worse that being insecure and you never want that to be the case for your kids. But at the same time, you don’t want to make them so secure they become cocky and think they are the king of the universe. Violette says things like that about her son and Jean-Rene laughs, but she and her son really do think that highly of him. Criticism can be good for kids, because you want to push them to get better and better. So I think parents are constantly struggling to find the balance, and truth is there’s never a perfect parent. There’s no such thing as a perfect child either, but parents feel more guilty about it. But as they said in Some Like it Hot, perhaps my favorite line in cinema, no bodies perfect.”
Delpy’s cinematic knowledge of film comedy clearly goes deep and expansive. Lolo’s cosmopolitan look and setting clearly has an element of classic cinema. But in making a farce, she was inspired by 70s French films, especially those starring Gerard Depardieu, along with some of the Hollywood comedies of Blake Edwards and Billy Wilder (the man behind Some Like it Hot). And she acknowledges another film as a person favorite that provided artistic inspiration…the Martin Scorsese cult classic The King of Comedy, because in that film, everyone’s a sociopath.”