This delicious and elegant comedy, directed by Philippe Lefebvre, returns to the Gary-Ajar mystification. On France 2 this Monday evening.
Paris, 1975. Romain Gary (Charles Berling), the famous author of The promise of dawnhas just published The life ahead under a pseudonym, Émile Ajar. This is not the first time that he has used an umed name but, at this pivotal moment in his career, when the literary world says he is finished, he wants to prove his ability to renew himself and pushes the mystification to the point of have this fictional writer played by his second cousin Paul Pavlowitch (Pierre Perrier, Influence games). At stake is the Goncourt Prize, which he has already received and which a novelist can only obtain once…
In Nice, a little student, Adèle (amazing Claire de la Rüe du Can, resident of the Comédie Française) is preparing her thesis subject: “The re-enchantment of reality in the work of Romain Gary”. The young woman, enthusiastic, pionate, is in all her states: but who is this Ajar who plagiarizes his favorite author? For her the similarities are blatant: characters constructed in the same way, with the same obsessions, characterized by their solitude… Neither one, nor two, here she is who “goes up” to the capital to play amateur detectives to get to the bottom of it . She gets hired as a waitress in the writer’s favorite café and soon enters his life…
A free spirit
This young doctoral student would have existed. Didier Van Cauwelaert mentions it in his work The adopted Father. Maria Pourchet (Prix de Flore 2023 for Westernshe says she works as a novelist thanks to Gary) and François-Henri Desérable (A certain Mr. Piekielnyliterary investigation into a character of Gary in The promise of dawn), chic and talented duo, fictionalized his meeting with the writer, his quest for truth. With great spirituality and a lightness that does not exclude depth. “ When I read the script, I saw something playful in it that echoed Gary’s character. He is built like his flashes, with a playful side », confides Philippe Lefebvre, whose production is in tune, fluid, elegant.
“ I felt something very powerful, simple, essential, analyzes for his part Charles Berling. Gary, it’s despair and humor all the time. This period when the mind is so free is good. This gives food for thought. I understood how this resistance fighter, an immigrant, with enormous courage, maintained a lofty view which inspired me greatly. Until his suicide note (in which he officially reveals the deception, in 1980, Editor’s note), prodigious in black humor. »
When Adèle tells him of her doubts, he defends himself with irony: “ Generally speaking, the influence my work has on the new generation is not emphasized enough! » The young woman, who lacks neither nerve, nor charm, nor fantasy, leads her boat without giving up anything. And shows quite a character at this half-time of the 70s. She rubs shoulders with Gisèle Halimi (Anne Charrier), the lawyer of Romain Gary, a figure of feminism, or Jean Seberg (Miranda Raison), his wife. With Gary, seduction inevitably plays a role, but everything is, once again, only delicacy. “ He had a huge appetite for women, continues the actor. But he was not a predator. Obviously, he has desire for her but he recognizes her spirit and that’s what takes precedence “.
Charles Berling, who played Jean Moulin, Robert Badinter or Léon Blum, did not seek resemblance with the novelist, arguing from the latter’s taste for fiction. “ We built a character as fantastical as Gary was. I didn’t want to be too respectful, and especially not hagiographic», concludes Philippe Lefebvre.