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Kompromat Director and Co-Star on Telling an Incredible and True Political Story

Jan 29, 2023


Russia has very much been in the news over the past year, due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. And while the new film Kompromat focuses on an entirely different real-world situation, Russian intelligence plays a central role in its storyline. Based on incredible true events, Jérôme Salle’s gripping espionage thriller depicts the remarkable story of a French public servant who finds himself in conflict with one of the modern era’s most powerful and dangerous forces: Russia’s FSB. The new film from Magnet Releasing will hit theaters and on demand on January 27.

Gilles Lellouche stars as Mathieu, a diplomat who accepts a posting to Irkutsk as head of Siberia’s Alliance Francaise. He hopes the change will be good for his family and struggling marriage, but before long, Mathieu’s staging of cultural events and support of artistic expression sees him fall afoul of local authorities. Accused of a terrible crime, he soon realizes someone has fabricated a case with Russia’s Federal Security Service. He has been framed. Arrested, imprisoned, and isolated, Mathieu has nowhere to turn. Defending himself is impossible, the French authorities are helpless, so it seems he has no choice — but to try and escape.
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Along the way, Mathieu finds an ally — and future love interest — in Svetlana, a multi-layered character played by Joanna Kulig. We recently caught up with Kulig and director Salle to learn more about their powerful new film, which effectively ties in a whole spread of different cultures and languages across its duration.

Jérôme Salle on Bringing a True Story to Life

MovieWeb: As co-writer of a film that’s based on a true story, how did it all start in terms of putting the script together?

Jérôme Salle: I wanted to talk about Russia, I wanted to find a story happening in this country… and when I heard about it happening to a French guy, of course, I had the feeling that it was a great opportunity to tell a classic thriller story happening in Russia, but with a French guy, so that it’s easier for the audience to connect.

MW: Did any past films inspire how you wanted this film to look?

Salle: I mean, of course, I’m influenced by many, many movies. But honestly, now — maybe because I’m getting older — when I start to work on a movie, I’m not always trying to be influenced by a specific movie, you see what I mean? What I knew is, I really wanted to shoot it in a very simple way… The way I use a camera, the way it was, there was… no crane, no crazy things. I wanted to keep it super simple to really connect to the actors, and especially to Joanna and Gilles. And yeah, that was my goal. That’s really what I had in mind, what was most important to me.

Related: The Independent: John Cena Pivots From Peacemaker to President in Political Thriller Headed to Sky Cinema

MW: Do you hope to do more films in the future that are based on a true story?

Salle: I mean, the movie industry is full of based-on literal stories, or loosely-based or inspired or whatever. I’m not specifically looking for that. I mean, that’s not my point… It’s so tough to make a movie happen. It’s such a long process, a difficult one that you really have to, at the very beginning, fall in love with a story… that really connects super deep with you because, yeah, it’s gonna be tough until the end… That’s my point when I start to work on a movie.

Joanna Kulig on Playing a Heroic Role

Magnet Releasing

MW: As the star of the film, what was it about Kompromat that first attracted you to the project?

Joanna Kulig: For the first time, it would throw me in France, and I was really happy. And I really loved the script, and I really love the character Svetlana. And I was very happy that I will be working together with Jérôme and Gilles Lellouche, who is a super talented actor. And I was very happy that I will meet once again with a French director and French actor because… Paris is a part of my life. I really like French culture and the film industry. Like, because it’s not the first movie in France… And for me, it was something new, you know? It’s always great to have something new, a different style and, you know, the vibe and structure [of the film].

MW: Did you do any sort of special preparations in getting ready to play the character Svetlana, since the film is based on a true story?

Kulig: Yeah you know, we had to rehearse with Jérôme because I really like to know a lot of things about my character. Then I tried to do great translations, like really be sure for all of the intentions that I really feel in my Polish language. And then I worked with two coaches, a Russian coach, and a French coach. So I always like to work with different languages because for me, it’s always like a different song… I [have sung] in Italian, in German, Polish, and Russian. My education was classic education, and I played the piano. So, for me, I always try to do this interpretation, but like… [how] people in the opera do it. They always have music they use in foreign languages, but generally, they need to put very specific kinds of feelings and details to the different languages. So, because I started to learn foreign languages very, very late, because I grew up with this small village where people speak only Polish, it’s always very, very hard in the beginning. But then I was always the person who likes to cross the comfort zone. I always jump into new waters.

MW: Do you hope to do more films in the future that are based on a true story?

Kulig: It’s always interesting when you know that the story is based on a true story because, like, in [the film] Cold War too, I knew, of course, not 100% of everything is true… Very often when I play a character that already existed… you feel like you’re connected with somebody. I think it’s more strong energy, and you feel like you have a ghost with you.

MW: Are there any projects you’re working on, that you’d like to share about?

Kulig: I finished a movie that will open the Berlin International Film Festival. I finished this movie in May in New York… and I’m so happy that I will see it for the first time in for the ceremonial opening this year. It’s called She Came to Me with Anne Hathaway and Peter Dinklage.

Kompromat is available on January 27.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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