Roadside Attractions releases Finding Your Feet on March 30th, 2018.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging was to to balance the humorous elements with the comedic ones? Is comedy often rooted in tragedy? Richard Loncraine: I think that the counterpoint for any movie---a horror movie with comedy, maybe--is going to be much more frightening than a horror movie with only horror. In anything I've ever done, I always try to have a counterpoint for stuff. It's what happens in life. We use comedy to get through times of real stress. When she tells him that she's dying of cancer and Imelda says to her "Surely, you're not going to Rome anymore." She says, "No, no, I'll just sit here and wait to die." and then they all laugh. I had a friend of mine many years ago who died suddenly of a brain hemmorage. Sitting next to him in the hospital bed, he said, "I hope I don't lose my sense of humor." We all laughed. You could hardly put it in a movie, but it was truthful.
NYC MOVIE GURU: There's a scene in the beginning of the film where Sandra lays in bed crying, but you don't see her crying; you're hearing it from the perspective of Biff. Why did you choose to trust the audience's imagination in that scene?
RL: That's interesting. I haven't thought of that. I kind of think that if you can let the audience do some of the work for you---it's like if you listen to the radio, the sets are so good on radio because they're in your mind. I think that that same rule can apply to filmmaking. Some of the best cameramen don't show you everything; they just hint at things. Your eyes and your mind fill in the gaps, so I'm glad that you observed that and that's something that certainly I try to do whenever possible.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think that Sandra would get along with Shirley Valentine?
RL: It's been a long time since I've seen Shirley Valentine, but that's a very interesting point. They might well get along.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging is it to know when to trust an audience's patience? For instance, you didn't include the scenes in heaven until much later in the film. Why did you choose to include it later rather than earlier?
RL: I do, too. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is my favorite movie in the world. It's really all about 2 or 4 people talking. When you have great dialogue, you don't need action all the time. A great voice is something that will always move people and change their life when you see it performed well.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you find the right balance between entertaining the audience, provoking them emotionally as well as intellectually?
RL: It's not my skill; it's the skills of the actors, really, and the lines that they have to say. My job is to be a barometer for their performances and a sounding board for them, but when you have actors at the calibur that I've been lucky enough to work with, they really know how to do it. There's a lot of bullshit talk about directing actors. You can't do it for them; you can nudge them. It's a bit like steering a boat: you only need to move that tether a tiny bit to get a lot of change in the actors. That's why I love directing movies that are performance films rather than special effects movies because there's always something for me to do. Every time we need to do a take, we need to talk about it generally. When you're doing a special effects movie, you tell them what you want and then 6 weeks later, they show it to you and you make a comment. So, directing actors is a great joy for me.
NYC MOVIE GURU: The actors in Finding Your Feet all have charisma. How would you define charisma?
RL: I think that it's sex appeal. I don't think matters whether you're gay, straight, male or female. Male actors to a male audience is sexy in its own way as a female actor is to a heterosexual male. We don't call it sex appeal because it doesn't sound right. He doesn't have to be a handsome, incredibly dashing man, but he's sexy and has a quality and charm. I think that humor is something that makes people sexy. Singing is something sexy. That's why many singers are idolized. There's something about singing that's appealing to people in a sensual way. It's not sex as much as sensuality. I'm very pleased that you feel that those actors have it. I do, too. I call it watchability. It's one notch down from, perhaps, stardom. You want to watch them do something. Donald Trump is not my favorite human being, but you can't take your eyes off of him, but Hillary Clinton, who I think has probably got a good heart, is absolutely not watchable when she's trying to appeal to the public. That's why, in my opinion, it's one of the reasons why she lost the election. She had no idea how to project herself to an audience with appeal. Trump is a game show host. He knows how to play an audience. Whether it's politics or the silver screen, there's something about sensuality and watchability that produces star quality.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What does the word "grown-up" really mean? Aren't we always growing up?
RL: I don't know. It's a very silly word, isn't it? It's meant to be a compliment, I guess, when someone says that you're very grown-up, but the truth is that some people never grow up, and some people are too grown-up when they're born. I think what's happening in society, I'm pleased to say, is that people who are "grown-up" are allowed to be childish now. They're allowed to behave in a way that's more like a teenager. Having said that, I don't think that men over 40 should be allowed to wear leather jackets with a number 9 on their backs. There's something inappropriate about it. Growing old is great for me. I have a theory that when you're young, you can wear what you like, but when you get to a certain age, you really need to start buying more expensive clothes that are simpler and more refined. Once you get really old, and I'm approaching that, you can actually start wearing anything and they'll just think that you're an old fart.
NYC MOVIE GURU: I hate the word "old." How about you?
RL: I think that we should ban it. You're quite right! That's definitely a good idea!
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is the difference between British humor and American humor?
RL: American humor at its best is fantastic; English humor is very self-deprecating. I think they take the piss out of themselves, as we say in England. I think that America is learning to do it. American broad comedy is much better when it's good than English broad comedy generally. I don't like slapstick, but I think that when Americans do broad comedy, they do it extremely well. I grew up with Monty Python---Michael Palin is one of my closest friends. I don't think that Americans would come up with a parrot sketch easily, but some of the works that you see with stand-up comedians in America is just fantastic and wonderfully skillful.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What would be a good double feature with Finding Your Feet?
RL: I would look for a counterpoint because I wouldn't want to see 2 movies like that in the same bill, so I would put Finding You Feet on with a thriller. It's the same reason why you wouldn't want to have 3 courses in a meal that all smell the same; you want to change the palate.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Something like Three Days of the Condor?
RL: Absolutely. You're exactly right.