Olivier Assayas on the Magic of Late-Career Guitry

Sacha Guitry was one of the most versatile multihyphenates in French cinema. After honing his idiosyncratic voice in the theater, he went on to direct, write, and star in dozens of films, each suffused with his sharp wit and adventurous approach to film style. Made in the last decade of his life, Guitry’s 1951 La poison marked a major transition in his work, turning the focus away from his own acting and toward that of another brilliant performer, the legendary Michel Simon. Taking aim at the pitfalls of matrimony and the arbitrariness of the French legal system, the film stars Simon and Germaine Reuver as a couple who, after thirty years of marriage, are contemplating how best to murder one another. One of Guitry’s most ardent fans, director Olivier Assayas, talks about this dark comedic masterpiece in an interview featured on our newly released edition of the film. In the clip above, Assayas discusses the great filmmaker’s transformative collaboration with Simon and how it allowed him to explore new territory through a persona completely different from his own.

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