THE BLOG
07/31/2011 09:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Point Blank : What Would You Do?

What if the woman you loved was suddenly at the mercy of a sadistic band of criminals? Check out Fred Cavayé's adrenaline-fueled thrill ride through the streets and subways of Paris.

Point Blank: Fred Cavayé

Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

Say you’re an ordinary guy, going through your ordinary day, when suddenly your pregnant wife is in danger and you’re at the mercy of a band of feuding gangsters. What would you do to protect the one you love? Throw in a squad of cops who may or may not be on the right side of the law, and you’ve got the simple scenario that is the premise of Fred Cavayé’s second feature, Point Blank (TFF 2011).

Cavayé’s breakneck thriller takes the viewer on an adrenaline-fueled ride through the streets of Paris, and stars newly-minted French star Gilles Lellouche as our Everyman Samuel; the charismatic Roschdy Zem as the menacing criminal Sartet; and the magnetic Elena Anaya as the mother-to-be Nadia. We recently caught up with Cavayé on the eve of Point Blank’s U.S. release.

Point Blank: Fred Cavayé

Director Fred Cavayé / Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

KMc: What inspired you to tell this story? How did the idea come to you?

Fred Cavayé: It actually sort of builds on my first film. In the last half-hour, my first film had one of these very tense sequences where everyone -- including the viewer -- was very much involved. So I decided to expand it: in this case we have a film that’s 90 minutes long in which someone who would normally take time to think before he acts has no time to think before he acts. He moves immediately from thinking to acting. I wanted a film that would be very entertaining, and also one that would really grab the spectator, make them feel like they were part of it.

Point Blank: Fred Cavayé

Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

KMc: It certainly does that. Does an Everyman being caught up in a thriller excite you more than, say, a CIA agent in danger?

FC: Yes, I think it’s really important for the viewer to identify with the main character, and I think it’s also easier to really identify with someone who’s ordinary -- with a nurse more than, say, a CIA agent. And I think making him an ordinary person also adds a human dimension that’s very important, because then the viewer has two times the fear when they are watching, wondering what’s going to happen to the character. To be an entertaining film, that’s all part of it.

Point Blank: Fred Cavayé

Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

KMc: You played with gender roles in this film, somewhat, by having the protagonist be a nurse, and depicting very strong female police officers. Can you just talk a little bit about that?

FC: I’m very interested in this question of role reversal, and what does it do then for the plot? So often I will write a role for a man, and then I think: What would it be like to give this role to a woman? I think it’s particularly interesting with the bad characters -- because say you have a villain who’s played by a man, it’s mainly a physical kind of thing, whereas if the villain is then transformed into a role played by a woman, it adds another dimension to it, a psychological dimension.

KMc: Maybe next time you will have a female gangster lead. That would be cool.

FC: Perhaps instead of a female gangster, a female hero! At the moment I am working on a number of screenplays, and in one of them, the main character is a woman, and it’s the woman who has to fight to save the person she loves.

Point Blank: Fred Cavayé

Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

KMc: What’s it like to film action scenes on the streets and subways of Paris? Are Parisians like New Yorkers: do they just get irritated? Or are they fascinated by seeing a movie being filmed?

FC: Actually, no, the Parisians react pretty much the same way that New Yorkers do. They are annoyed -- the streets are blocked, the roads are blocked, they can’t travel -- so I think it’s probably the same reaction. And it’s rather complicated to shoot, for example, in Paris, because you need authorizations in order to be able to do everything, so there’s really no room for improvisation here. Everything really has to be anticipated and thought through before you begin the shooting. So for example, in the shots in the subway -- all the people you see there are extras; they are not just people in the background. When we shot in the Metro, we shot in the hours that the Metro is closed, which is between 1 am and 5 am.

Point Blank: Fred Cavayé

Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

KMc: In New York, our subways never close, so there is not that option.

FC: So the next film I’m going to shoot in New York! [laughs]

Point Blank: Fred Cavayé

Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

KMc: What American directors have influenced you? Which directors are you a fan of?

FC: Of course I was influenced by a lot of American filmmaking, but for me the major one was The Godfather, which is really the bible of that type of film. I have also seen and really like a lot of the newer films, the newer generation of directors -- for example, James Gray, who I think is really a wonderful director.

The thing is, I have just as much influence from French films. I think that my filmmaking is really a good combination of something like a Claude Sautet film plus the Jason Bourne trilogy; it’s really a good mix.

Point Blank: Fred Cavayé

Courtesy Magnolia Pictures

KMc: It really does translate very well. I watched this with my husband, who loves action movies but isn’t a big fan of subtitles -- and he was riveted. So thanks for opening his mind a bit!

FC: [laughs] Well, it does have very little dialogue. Voila!

Want more? Read the entire interview at TribecaFilm.com.

Point Blank is now playing. Find tickets.

Watch the trailer: