Claire Denis seizes the moment with ‘Stars at Noon’
Set in modern Nicaragua, the film stars Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn
CANNES, France — French auteur filmmaker Claire Denis says writer Denis Johnson’s death prompted her to take action to bring her novel The stars at noon on the big screen.
Denis, who is making his return to the Cannes competition with the film, had discussed the project with the American author and was filming his space drama high life when Johnson died in May 2017.
“When I read The stars at noon I was so moved, so moved that I wrote to him and we met,” Denis, 76, told Reuters in Cannes ahead of the film’s world premiere.
“Unfortunately he died while I was filming high life. And at that moment, I thought, I can’t wait too long because life is so unpredictable. It has to be my next project because next time it might be me dead. So let’s go!”
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed production back and shattered Denis’ plans to reunite with her high life to direct Robert Pattinson. Instead, she cast British actor Joe Alwyn to star alongside Margaret Qualley and the film was shot in Panama in December 2021.
“The pandemic has arrived and The Batman filming took him almost two years and Robert was very tired. He said “I can’t”. And then I was lucky, so lucky, that Joe was interested,” Denis said.
“It was one of those situations I had never encountered before when someone calls a week before and says ‘Do you want to join us next week?’ Except this time it was with Claire in Panama,” Alwyn recalled. “Even though it’s been a whirlwind, it’s kind of impossible to say ‘no’.”
Set in modern-day Nicaragua, the film stars Qualley as young American journalist Trish who has fallen victim to a local power play and finds herself trapped in the country. A chance encounter with a mysterious English businessman (Alwyn) leads to a one-night stand that turns into a passionate love affair. With the Englishman’s safety compromised, they attempt to escape the country together.
The stars at noon is screened in competition at the 75th Cannes Film Festival. Denis’ last participation in the Cannes competition was the 1988 film Chocolate. – Rappler.com