By Josh Gardner
Following the world-wide success of true crime tale The Clan, filmmaker Pablo Trapero returns to the screen with the intimate personal drama, The Quietude / La Quietud. The film tells the twisted story of two sisters, played by Martina Gusmán (Lion’s Den, Carancho) and Bérénice Bejo (The Artist), attempting to sort our their complicated past and come to terms with the dark secrets of their mother (Argentine screen legend Graciela Borges). TropicalFRONT sat down with Trapero and Gusmán—his leading lady, producing partner, and wife—after the film’s North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The pair has worked on several projects together over the years, but after six years since their most recent collaboration, The White Elephant (2012), Trapero and Gusmán were eager to work together again. “For me, The Quietude is a film with a feminine approach, so It was important to have Martina’s support and advice from very early on,” Trapero explained. “Reuniting after several years of not working together was a gift. Just to find ourselves a little bit older, with more life experience and able to look at things from new perspectives. It also surprised me, to see once again, how Martina can inhabit such a complex character. She isn’t afraid to take big risks.”
The film marks a departure from the constraints of Trapero and Gusmán’s previous collaborations. “Unlike Lion’s Den or Carancho,” Gusmán related, “there was no concrete universe like a jail or hospital for the film to hang on. This film is almost more theatrical, a simple exploration of these characters, away from distraction, as if they were the only people left in the world.”. Trapero agreed that he felt “relieved” not to have to worry about things like period details. This allowed him to get back to the basics of directing. He reveled in the opportunity to focus on working with the actors on set and the luxury of exploring and experimenting.
It’s clear that Trapero and Gusmán have a deep respect and mutual admiration for one another, resulting in some of the best Argentine films of the last decade. But, Gusmán felt the need to achieve a similar level of intimacy with Bejo--afterall, the film rests on the complicated yet beautiful relationship between the two as sisters. Besides an uncanny physical resemblance, the two worked hard to create a bond that would permeate beyond the screen. “Bérénice arrived in Argentina once filming had already begun, so we had to learn about each from afar. We started by telling each other about our lives, sending each other childhood photos and music. We discovered that we shared many similarities. We are both actresses, we are both the wives of directors [Bejo is married to The Artist filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius], we are both very family oriented,” Gusmán gushed. She stressed that, once together in Buenos Aires, the two women continued to bond and even lived together while filming. “People were very impressed with Martina and Bérénice’s connection on the screen,” Trapero lauded, “and that is thanks to their many efforts, together and separately, both before and after being on set. There are layers of work at play and I felt very proud to see that on the screen and to be able to share that with the public.”
While the film has left critics divided, Variety raved that The Quietude is a “beautifully crafted multilayered drama that’s also [Trapero’s] most enjoyable film in years. Boasting a trio of actresses at the top of their game and cinematography that constantly impresses with its confident yet unshowy fluidity.”