Anyone who has seen Julie Delpy in Richard Linklater’s Before series and in 2 Days in Paris (and its New York-based sequel) knows what a triple threat she is as a writer, director, and actor. Her most recent effort, Lolo, in which she does all three, is a French-language comedy that focuses on the complexity of finding love later in life—but with a much darker cinematic epicenter than what we’ve seen from the French native in the past.
Delpy plays a 40-something Parisian with a successful career in the fashion industry who, while on vacation in Biarritz, meets and falls in love with an endearingly naive and provincial IT specialist, Jean-Rene, who has a hopelessly bad fashion sense (which wouldn’t be a big deal if Violette wasn’t one to rubs elbows with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, who makes a cameo in the film). When the holiday romance resumes in the city, a clash between Violette’s new boyfriend and her 19-year-old sociopath son, Lolo, ensues with farcical schemes including an itching-powder incident, drug-spiked champagne, and even a career-damaging computer hack on the part of Violette’s insidious offspring.
Delpy’s neurotic Violette steals the spotlight—not entirely surprising coming from the actress who won our hearts with the charmingly opinionated and inappropriately hilarious characters of Celine and Marion in Before series and 2 Days, respectively. Violette is a woman of many contradictions: She is independent and successful in her professional life, yet needy in her romantic life, as seen when she leaves Jean-Rene a novel-length string of insecure text messages. She is romantic, in a traditional way, but also undeniably modern: spewing feminist remarks, allowing her son to smoke weed in the house, and engaging in outwardly sexual banter with her best friend Ariane. (In one standout scene, the two get into details about Jean-Rene going down on Violette while she’s on her period, as a female train passenger looks on at them in horror.) Violette is a woman struggling to keep everything together as she balances her career with raising her self-centered artist son, who she consider the “future of humanity,” and a blossoming relationship. And as such, her neurotic and hypochondriac sides ring incredibly authentic—charming the audience and bringing out laughs throughout the film.
A trace of that neuroticism is spotted in Delpy herself, when during our interview, she stops in the middle of a response because she thinks there is an earthquake happening in her home in L.A: “I kind of felt an earthquake. Did I imagine it?” “Yeah, I totally imagined it,” she concludes before I even have a chance to comment. (There wasn’t an earthquake.) Like her character, she too has a son, seven-year-old Leo (who she says is nothing like Lolo and is “the sweetest little thing”). She also considers herself a feminist, and doesn’t care should her sexual dialogue offend the audience.
As with Delpy’s other comedies, which often seem to provide running commentary on life, it would appear that Violette is a pretty accurate depiction of the modern-day woman doing it all. Yet when I ask Delpy whether her character is a representation of what it’s like to be a woman in today’s world, she denies making such claims: “I am not trying to make statements, like, “Okay, I am showing you a woman in her 40s, and women in their 40s are like that.’ That would be so presumptuous of me.”
With Lolo out in theatres now, we caught up with Delpy. Read the full interview, after the jump, where she talks about motherhood, how women handle sociopaths better than men, and why there will definitely be no sequel to Lolo.