The film viking, which has just been awarded a special mention at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere, is based on a wacky concept if ever there was one. We follow David, a middle-aged man who, realizing the dream of a lifetime, finds himself participating in a space mission… while remaining on Earth. It is that the astronauts of the said mission are in conflict. Also, a mirror team made up of people with identical psychological profiles was formed and brought together in a simulated shuttle in the middle of nowhere in order to find “intuitive” solutions. The result is catastrophic, but Stéphane Lafleur’s film is a splendid success.
However, if the existentialo-surrealist signature that we like so much in the director of You sleep Nicole is discernible in every plane, only a part of the success of viking goes to co-screenwriter Éric K. Boulianne, with whom we discussed. Moreover, in the interview he gave us for TIFF, Stéphane Lafleur was clear about the reasons that led him to write in collaboration for the first time in his career. “I suspected that I had a good concept, but it was so rich that it became easy to get lost […] I had several ideas, but I have a more instinctive, poetic approach, while Éric is very strong in the narrative. That’s what I wanted for this film. »
Entry on the scene, therefore, of the young but already veteran screenwriter Éric K. Boulianne (prank, From father to cop 2, Before we explode, The Barbarians of La Malbaie, Liar).
“Initially, Stéphane spoke to me about the project like that, because we are friends, explains Éric K. Boulianne. Afterwards, my role became a little more of an adviser [à la scénarisation]. Except that by dint of talking, it was obvious that we agreed on Stéphane’s vision, on the themes…”
Precisely, beyond its wacky concept, but which becomes oddly and perfectly believable, what “speaks” vikingaccording to Éric K. Boulianne?
“Of dreams and the limits of dreams, and what happens when we fall into disappointment. It’s a film about disappointment, basically, which is rather downer for sale, I admit,” he laughs.
In all fairness, viking is not depressing for two pennies, even that one often laughs there, of unusual visual finds in deadpan hilarious replicas.
“More seriously, I found it interesting, as a questioning. Because it’s not true that we’re all going to have an impact on Earth. Worse it is correct. We will all live, but we will not all necessarily make a difference in the grand scheme of humanity. And that’s okay, because there are plenty of great things to enjoy along the way. If we disregard the whimsical side of the film’s concept, there is something very realistic in its central questioning. »
Realistic, yes, and fascinating. In short, Lafleur and Boulianne were obviously in tune. So that one day, the first asked the second: “Would you like to board? »
Positive response from Éric K. Boulianne who, unlike Stéphane Lafleur, is used to writing in pairs, threes, or even fours.
“Stéphane was super candid about his apprehensions; that it was the first time he had done that and everything. At the same time, his films are expected by moviegoers; he has a singular, recognizable universe… We were like… tamed, quietly. As I said, we were already friends, but collaborating on a screenplay is different. It turned out that we were very complementary: he kept his touch, and I brought an additional structure, construction of the story, dramatic curve… ”
viking having long established a beginning and an end, the challenge lay in the in-between: where to go, why, how, at what pace, etc.
“We talked about it recently with Stéphane, and we said to each other how great it had been. I was happy that he approached me: sometimes, I have the impression that many filmmakers here are afraid to call on scriptwriters. »
Energy and passion
Be that as it may, Éric K. Boulianne is not idle: a look at his filmography in recent years is enough to make you dizzy. In 2019 alone, three feature films co-written by him were released, not counting the short ones. It is more or less the same situation which is repeated in 2022-2023, with the release of viking and that, next, of the highly anticipated adaptation of the fabulous novel by Stéphane Larue The plungerwritten by Boulianne and directed by Francis Leclerc.
And there was this summer, in France, the release of remake of Liar : with us, Éric K. Boulianne is working on a sequel to the original titled for the moment Liar, again in collaboration with Sébastien Ravary and director Émile Gaudreault. With this one, there is also talk of a film about “the universe of Michel Tremblay”…
The game, I would like to devote myself to it even more in the future. I don’t intend to give up screenwriting, but it’s mentally draining, especially when you’re working on three, four, five projects at the same time; rewrites, all that. Maybe alternate acting, scriptwriting, directing…
Previously, however, there will be the film faradorbased on the 2006 short film The Battle of Faradorand camped in the middle of role-playing games…
“All of this is essentially upstream work. These are my previous years, which were rock’n’roll. Although going out is very stressful, because I care so much. I want the films in which I participated to find their audience. In 2019, Liar walked to the end, but Before we explode and The Barbarians of La Malbaie, not so much: it affected me, that’s for sure. You put so much energy and passion that when it goes a little in the butter, it’s describing. There, with viking, The plunger and farador, I feel the same stress, because these are films that I like. »
A diverse future
Note about farador Éric K. Boulianne will also play the leading role. Not a newcomer to interpretation, he appears in viking and acted in several short films, including the diptych Little brother and Big brother.
“The game, I would like to devote myself to it even more in the future. I don’t intend to give up screenwriting, but it’s mentally draining, especially when you’re working on three, four, five projects at the same time; rewrites, all that. Maybe alternate acting, scriptwriting, directing…”
Yes, because he also directed Éric K. Boulianne: a short film, in this case: “It’s called make a child. We follow a couple for three years, as the spouses try to have a child. »
Added to all this are three or four projects “in development”… Something to be grateful for, but exhausted.
“I’m aware that I’m privileged, but I’m trying to slow down my pace, to be more careful — I have a hard time getting there, I admit. But, you know, when you gossip about it with your shrink and he says to you: “I think you just finished a burnout“… In short, I have a four-year-old child for whom I want to be there, and I try to listen to myself more,” concludes Éric K. Boulianne.
It is the grace that we wish him, especially since we want to keep him as long as possible in the Quebec cinematographic landscape.
The film viking takes the poster