Director Eric Rochant talks Möbius, the spy thriller opening the Cine 13 Film Festival

The French director Eric Rochant talks about his film Mobius, which opens the 13-week Cine 13 Festival at Ibn Battuta Mall tonight.

Cécile De France, left, and Jean Dujardin in a scene from the tri-lingual spy thriller Möbius. Courtesy Recifilms
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Cine 13 Festival, a 13-week celebration of French film at Ibn Battuta Mall’s Grand Cinemas, opens tonight with Eric Rochant’s Möbius.

The Patriots director has crafted a tri-lingual spy thriller that mixes espionage plot twists with a doomed love story and comes out somewhere between the two – having largely succeeded in harvesting the best of both genres, while avoiding both the more bombastic elements of the former and the most cloying elements of the latter. At face value, it’s about the underhand efforts of global security agencies to undermine each other’s political and financial paymasters, but the fact that the lady sitting next to me at the advance screening was crying at the end is testament to the fact that this is not exactly Mission: Impossible redux – it’s just that little bit more, well, French.

Chatting to Rochant, I suggest that European cinema tends to take a different approach to the spy genre than its Hollywood counterpart. Could Europe’s place at the geographic heart of the Cold War, surely spying’s finest hour, and the US’s comparatively safe distance be a factor? Rochant considers, then says: “I think in Europe we are all the children of John le Carré. He’s inspired everybody and that’s why I wanted to make a great spy movie. Also, with the current financial situation in Europe, French films are becoming much less ‘French’ and more ‘European’, as we have to go for finance to Belgium, we have to film Moscow in Luxembourg – we’re all sharing our knowledge. And in Europe, we were spying on each other long before anyone else. We have a long history of spying.”

Rochant wrote and directed Möbius, so it is clearly a personal project for him and he’s entitled to be pleased to have attracted actors of the calibre of Tim Roth and the Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist). But Rochant says he didn’t feel any extra pressure due to his glittering cast list.

“It was inspiring to make an actor like Jean Dujardin, who is known for comedy, take this challenge and discover another part of his job. He was very humble and wanted to make the best movie he could, and the same for Tim, although he is a very different actor and French and English actors have very different traditions.”

Indeed, with a cast made up of a mixture of the finest of British, French and Russian talent, Rochant says his biggest challenge was combining the different cultures into a successful finished product.

“It’s not that you speak different languages, but a whole different body language, a whole different culture and tradition – and that can be a challenge.”