The Talking and Slice of Life series follows four women who, according to the usual romantic comedy phrase, should have figure everything out now. It turns out that this is not real life.
Julie Delpy doesn 't mince words when it comes tois about women and age.
"Fifty is not the new 30 ", she said when speaking a recent video call from his hotel room in Paris. She was there to promote her television creation, the 12-part series "On the Verge," which she wrote, supervised and starred in.
"There is almost a cruel thing about women that if we can no longer procreate, what are we?" Said Delpy, who also directed several episodes. "And then you become a grandmother and you exist again in your seventies. You have this dead zone.
Produced by Canal Plus and Netflix, "On the Verge " is an at times absurd yet far too real comedy that follows four mostly well-off friends in Los Angeles as they grapple with middle age - to realize that after all these years they still have no ideaof what they do. The idea seems to have found a ready audience: After debuting last week, the series quickly broke into the Netflix Top 10 in the United States, reaching No.7 on weekends.
So much for the dead zones. And not bad for a talking and slice-of-life series that also switches between English and French.
Delpy, 51, has made a career out of t create and portray socialite female characters in movies where most of the action takes place on a walk, on a train or around a table. Getting these characters from one page to the next hasn't always been easy, she said, but it's been especially difficult since she started writing about women. of her age.
As romantic comedy goes, women in their twenties and thirties are often shown having sex.go and struggle to figure things out, and it's supposed to be cute. But in a woman's 40s or 50s - the part that comes after the happy ending - she's supposed to come together, isn't she?
In " On the Verge ", this notion is, quite literally, a joke.
" I loved how all of them our characters were just starting to gain confidence in themselves as they were about to turn 50, "said Elisabeth Shue, executive producer and star of the show. She described shooting a scene. dinner in particular from episode 2 which, for Shue, "perfectly reflected Julie's artistic sensibility ".
mix of madness and " 'humor born of insecurity and chaos, "she added. Image From left to right, Alexia Landeau, Elisabeth Shue, Sarah Jones and Delpy in a scene from " On Point. Credit ... Netflix
In the series, Delpy plays Justine, a successful chef with a lively restaurant. She writes a cookbook while working long hours in restaurants, raising a young son, and enduring a barrage of aggressive passive slurs from her sulky, jobless husband. Shue plays her friend Anne, a clothing designer with a trust fund, a habit of vaping, and a husband who struggles to accept her fluid gender son.
Tony winner Sarah Jones plays Yasmin, a mother and wife who have abandoned their careers and are desperate to get something back for herself. Alexia Landeau (who hasco-wrote several episodes and executive produced) plays Ell, a sin unemployed mother of three children by three different fathers.
Despite the hardships of characters, "On the Verge " is truly a comedy, and Delpy isn't afraid to make jokes on serious topics like the stress endured by working mothers, toxic masculinity or ageism. In one of the first scenes, Yasmin is interviewed by a woman half her age and told that she is, basically, too old. When Yasmin starts to panic and squeezes his chest, the young interviewer asks her if she's having a heart attack.
The scene details an experience that will resonate with many women; Delpy allows the audience to laugh, even if he grinds his teeth.
"I'm 46, not 96! " Yasmin replies.
It 's a strip ofcerebral sensitivity has been refined throughout Delpy's career. Her parents, Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet, were both actors (they played her parents on screen in Delpy's 2007 feature film, "Deux jours à Paris"), and she grew up in France surrounded by artists, theater actors and writers. Her first big screen role came when Jean Luc Godard chose her in his 1985 film "Detective" when she was 14 years old. "Three Colors" trilogy.
She spent much of her childhood behind the scenes at her parents' experimental theater performances or dancing, making music and write alone; later she studied cinema at N.Y.U. It's this mix of experimentation and structure (Delpy is quick to point out that the series is meticulously ed) that she brings to "On the Verge".
" This is the sophistication oblamed by the absurdity, "said Giovanni Ribisi, who plays Justine's endearing but infuriating boss, speaking of Delpy's sensitivity. “Julie made an impression with her own style. She is an artisan. She has personality. Like in the 1970s. "
When Delpy played Celine alongside Ethan Hawke in Richard Linklater's" Before Sunrise "(1995), his character resonated with a generation of women in their twenties in the 1990s - women thrilled to see a lead romantic woman who could be both philosophical and funny. "Before Sunrise ", shot on a modest budget, proved to audiences and critics that a simple story of two people meeting on a train and chatting all night long could become one of the most enduring romantic films of the 90s.
Delpy then co-wrote the suites, "Before Sunset " and "Before Midnight ", starring Linklater and Hawke, winning Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for both films.
She has directed seven films, including the drama "My Zoe ", released earlier this year. With "Verge," she was able to tackle topics close to her heart, show off her acting skills and explore the lives of women who, even in their forties and forties. fifty, deserves more than a few throwaway lines.
"It 's fun to be able to talk about real things," Delpy said. 'was a bit difficult to get there. "
Delpy started to think in 2013 about the four main characters of " On the Verge "and One soon followed suit. A few people got interested in the project over the years as she bought it, but financiers and studios were reluctant to support a show about women in that installment. age ", a-she declared. Image " Fifty is not the new 30 ", said Delpy, adding: " The show is about not having to lie about your age. Credit ... Elliott Verdier for Hfrance.fr
"I think this has finally happened, in part, because people are ready , "Said Delpy. " Now was the right time, finally. "
Olivier Gauriat, an executive producer of the series, signed in 2019 because he was a fan of Delpy's work on and off screen. But he was also drawn to what she was trying to do in "Verge " in terms of portrayal and 'age of women.
"There aren't a lot of rotating shows out there. Around women at this age," Gauriat said. "Canal Plus and Netflix have been very supportive, and I think that 's what interested them. They gave him carte blanche. "
Preproduction on " Verge "began before the pandemic, before to be arrested along with the rest of Hollywood. Delpy returned to the s. She adjusted some of the story lines to reflect what was really going on. By the time filming finally began, she had revised the schedule to take place in January and February 2020, eight weeks in which a crisis was brewing, but few understood what really awaited them. Seen over a year and a half later, "Verge " feels like a time capsule from those early days just before everyone started stocking up toilet paper and searching for N95 masks.
Delpy said she decided to incorporate real world events because the characters were, as it says in the title, on the verge of something new and unknown just like the world surrounding them.
"Everything changes for these characters, but everything changes for the world, too," she said.
Things can change, but Delpy has no illusions that women over 40 are suddenly the new "it girls ". "There's a point in " Verge "where Jerry says to Justine, " You're in a cultural blind spot "- no one cares about women his age.
It 's funny because it is so absurdly insulting. It ' s also funny because it rings true.
" The show is about not having to lie about your age, "she added. " Or pretend you're something else. "