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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

Moka

by writer/director Frédéric Mermoud

When I finished my first feature Accomplices, a detective story, I told one of the leads, Emmanuelle Devos, that it was time to make a new movie with her as the center of gravity. As an actress she embodies so many different emotions. Her face is a whole story unto itself.

My aim was to exhaust Emmanuelle: to have the camera follow her face incredibly closely, to capture her soul, her tiniest vibrations. That was the origin of the project.

Then I read Tatiana de Rosnay’s novel Moka and felt I could write a story from it. I concentrated on one chapter of the novel. My movie is the story of a woman looking for the driver who killed her son. After his death her whole life implodes, and she has just one thing on her mind: to find the killer. Her own rationality and even sanity are brought into question in the process.

When I discussed the project with my producers, I noticed that something about it was a bit transgressive. Diane, the main character, is at first consumed by a strong desire for revenge. This instinctive impulse is culturally considered very masculine. I wanted my movie to begin like, let’s say, Pale Rider. But the revenge in Moka is just the beginning of a very complex journey. Diane invented a story in her mind to rationalize the death of her son, but she will discover that the truth can be very different. She will go through myriad states of mind until she can discover how to find closure.

In one sense, Moka became a novel encounter between two women and two actresses: Emmanuelle Devos and Nathalie Baye. Two women who seem so different, at least on the surface. One is blonde, the other brunette. Emmanuelle is moody and introspective, Nathalie is sunny and gregarious. Perhaps it is precisely because of their singular personalities that a deeper relationship develops between these two.