Nicolas Pleskof (Murder Party): “It’s a film that speaks deeply of childhood”

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Nicolas Pleskof: The idea of ​​the film is the conjunction of two desires. The first desire was to make a “whodunit” (contraction of the expression “Who (has) done it?”, in French who did it, editor’s note), that is to say a Cluedo film. It’s a genre that I really like, because it brings together everything I love about cinema: behind closed doors, the possibility of creating pop universes, backdated universes and doing comedy. My second desire was to make a film about the family (in the Daguerre clan, editor’s note). A trashy pop comedy about family, from confinement to dark secrets gathered in one place, that gives this project.

Were you a fan of board games as a child?

Nicolas Pleskof: I played board games a lot in my childhood. I was obviously a huge fan. Today, I am a huge fan of escape games, which for me is really the ultimate form of play. It’s the life-size board game and it puts people in pretty crazy states. There really are questions that people suddenly immerse themselves in. There is a suspension of credulity which means that, for an hour, it becomes extremely serious not to find the code. In escape games as in board games, the human suddenly gets into the execution. He cancels everything around him, he agrees to change his way of reacting and it’s a little fascinating.

Is the mix between comedy and detective investigation a genre that appeals to you?

Nicolas Pleskof: Yes of course. It’s true that it’s a delicate balance because mixing comedy with the detective genre is like walking on a tightrope. Then you have to decrease the stories while laughing at them. It’s a torturous thing to hold on to but, it’s definitely the crime genre. A unique genre in itself that includes the spectator, obliges him to play. But also to reflect, ask questions and reflect on the possible murderer. This genre makes him participate and therefore brings him into the game.

Nicolas Pleskof: Filming took place during the second confinement, between the end of November 2020 and the beginning of January 2021. So it was a period with curfews, certificates… All the preparation was done during the second confinement. It was complicated because all the stores were closed, if only for accessories, decoration and costumes. For the management, it was also complicated because we had to find hotels and get food, but everything was closed so it was a real challenge.

After the shooting itself happened in a bubble. There are a lot of constraints: wearing a mask, washing your hands, the canteen was glazed, we got tested every week. We were on the lookout for the slightest case so it was an additional pressure. Afterwards, we were lucky to have zero cases throughout the film. In the relationship with the actors, they knew the conditions in which we were going to shoot, they all came without anyone making an additional stress criterion, we are very careful. Filming with these actors was wonderful for me. From the moment I knew they were making the film for good reasons and that they wanted to do it, the work on the set was no more stressful than with other actors. I was with great professionals who wanted the film to be as successful as I did. And, who worked for the good of the film as much as I did. It was a studious and joyful atmosphere, but the mix between covid and the pressure of filming with the actors did not ultimately make the days any different from what they would have been under other conditions.

You already knew Sarah Stern (Léna) and you struck up a friendship with Alice Pol (Jeanne) on the set…

Nicolas Pleskof: Sarah Stern is a friend that I have known for many years. I met Alice on the set and since then we have become very good friends. It’s a real friendship. When we met, we immediately understood that we were made for each other for this film. A particular affinity has been linked between us. It is not for nothing that I offered her this role and that she accepted. We had the same way of seeing certain things, of living this role too. We became very good friends like with Pablo Pauly, Sarah Stern, Pascale Arbillot… And yet, I thought of her rather at the end of the writing. I preferred not to impose too specific an imagination on myself when I was writing so as not to risk working on a screenplay for five years while thinking of someone specific, only to end up being disappointed at the end.

Nicolas Pleskof: He is not someone who intimidates Eddy on the contrary. He is a very comfortable person who puts an atmosphere on the set. For me obviously, the first steps on a feature film set can be something impressive. While it is something that is very usual for him, he has the career he has, his daily life is extraordinary. It rather puts a very relaxed atmosphere.

Are the colorful decors and fashions of the 50s-60s a source of inspiration?

Nicolas Pleskof: These are periods that I really like. The script is so crazy, it tells things and elements that absolutely could not happen in reality. For me, for the spectator to agree to enter this madness, the universe had to be adapted to the madness of the subject. So I create a universe that doesn’t have too many precise references to everyday life or to a contemporary, whether it’s as old-fashioned as possible. Both in terms of time and space, it is not located in France, England or anywhere. I really wanted that through the universe of the film, we enter a game board that is from all eras at the same time. A bit like Wes Anderson does for example. He makes contemporary films, but which could completely take place in the 1960s given their aesthetics. As Alain Resnais could do in his last films (Hearts, You haven’t seen anything yet, Smoking / No Smoking…), where we are in a kind of total anti-epoch today but which could be the whole 20th century at the same time.

The poster of the film has been widely commented on social networks for its resemblance to the American version Knives Out (Knives Out, 2019), in particular by its American producer Rian Johnson…

Nicolas Pleskof: This poster story makes me laugh a little. Obviously it’s a very clear nod to the film Knives Out and we’ve never hidden it. But, a lot of people on Twitter thought they were vigilantes, who were outraged, screaming plagiarism and it made me laugh a little. Then a poster is a communication medium, my film is a Cluedo film. And, what’s the last Cluedo movie that got exposure and people liked? At daggers drawn! So, what do the poster codes say: if you liked the kind of film that is Knives Out, you might like this genre that is part of the same movement of film. After the comparison stops there in the sense that I have not even seen Knives Out. I wrote my film between 2014 and 2019 while the film was released at the end of 2019. We have the same references, which are Agatha Christie’s films, Cluedo and other films that use the basic codes of Cluedo.

What is the message behind the movie Murder Party?

Nicolas Pleskof: It’s a film that speaks deeply of childhood. This film says that it is very important to preserve one’s part of childhood in order to become a successful, creative, happy adult, open to one’s emotions. And, to play like children do by suspending reality for the time of the game. Escape as much as possible and create a world of your own. This is the journey of my heroine Jeanne.

Nicolas Pleskof: Murder Party is a film about the game, which is a game from A to Z. He first wants to invite people to play, then to take part in the game in another position. This film invites you to be a pawn and a player at the same time. I wanted it to be deeply playful, enjoyable and generous. I wanted to create an enclave that goes out of the world for two hours. During the preview tour, I saw a lot of very happy people who came out very amused and got away with it. We live in an era in which it is important to clear our minds, to escape and to play thanks to the film.