Vincent Cassel

Vincent Cassel

When Vincent Cassel suspends his fighting man’s glare and allows his grin to surface, it is easy to imagine him as a child, flashing his blue eyes and mischievous smile at his father, the actor and dancer Jean-Pierre Cassel. Dressed up and dancing gaily at home, perhaps his father was unconsciously driving him to love the craft that has determined his life. Perhaps it was that impulse that drove him to take dance and circus classes and later to study drama in Paris and in New York at the Actors Institute.

Born in the rebellious Paris of the sixties, the man and his characters share the desire to not settle but rather to be in touch with the intensity of life. As Cassel has said on more than one occasion, he dislikes those good and immaculate characters that are made only of light and kindness, because no one is perfectly good, and we all have our demons. His characters are typically tormented – one might call them bad – men who follow their lowest, most primitive impulses in the service of vengeance, pleasure, or redemption. He acknowledges that his presence on screen is infused with a certain animal quality, because he is interested in violence, passion, and rebellion – all of which earned him a place among the enfants terribles of French cinema when he was starting out.

A good portion of his reputation emerged from La Haine and the character of Vinz, a role that would catapult him to worldwide fame. Vinz was a character, that to some extent, he already knew, since nights in the city of lights had Cassel making the rounds from the slums to the suburbs where French hip hop was born, and to the most refined nightclubs where all the of the elitism, cynicism, and chauvinism of Paris were on display. Perhaps for that reason Cassel lives today in Rio de Janeiro, far away from all that snobbery.

This retrospective and tribute from FICCI 57 consists of six of his films, selected from his intense and diverse filmography. La Haine (1995) by Mathieu Kassovitz, Dobermann (1997) by Jan Kounen, Read My Lips (Sur mes lèvres, 2001) by Jacques Audiard, Our Day Will Come (Notre jour viendra, 2010) by Romain Gavras, Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti, 2015) by Mateo Garrone, winner of 18 international awards and nominated to the Palme d*@@*Or in Cannes and, as a closing of the tribute, It*@@*s Only the End of the World (Juste la fin du monde, 2016) by Xavier Dolan, which won the Grand Prix and the Ecumenical Jury Prize in Cannes.

Charismatic, restless, impetuous, intuitive, pure energy on set, a surfer, a father, and above all an actor – this is Vincent Cassel, or at least a portion of him. Having always been private, what we know of Cassel has come to us by way of his characters. Some characters are more similar to him, others less so, but all of them are rendered with passion, with respect for the craft, and with the desire to take a step in a different – ideally controversial – direction.

The tribute to Cassel and his presence in Cartagena is possible thanks to the support of the France-Colombia Year 2017, the French Embassy, the Institut Français and Unifrance.