“Last Dance”: Brussels première of Delphine Lehericey’s latest feature starring François Berléand

The award-winning film “Last Dance,” written and directed by Swiss-born Delphine Lehericey, had its Brussels premiere last night at the UGC theater. Ms. Lehericey was joined by actors François Berléand, Jean-Benoît Ugeux, Astrid Whetnall, and producer Elena Tatti, when they introduced the film to the audience and also later in the evening with a Q & A after the screening of the film.

“Last Dance” follows Germain, played by François Berléand; he’s an introspective retiree who abruptly becomes a widower at seventy-five. He barely has the time to realize what has happened to him before his family forces their way into his daily life: non-stop phone calls and visits, meals, and activities organized in advance—all meant to make his life as regular as a Swiss clockwork. But Germain’s mind is elsewhere. Honoring a promise he made to his dear departed wife, he suddenly finds himself at the heart of a contemporary dance company’s newest work.

Delphine Lehericey during the introduction of “Last Dance” in Brussels | Film Talk

All eyes were on Delphine Lehericey and her leading actor François Berléand. Ms. Lehericey (b. 1975) received a performing arts degree from the University of Paris, and, coming from a theater background, she first worked as an actress and stage director. Between 1998 and 2008, she participated in several productions in state and national theaters before training as a video director. As such, she led training programs for directing actors in front of the camera and directed scenographic pieces for dance and theater. She then decided to focus on film direction.

In 2007 she directed “Comme à Ostende,” a medium-length film selected for the Locarno Film Festival’s Concorso Cineasti del Presente. Two years later, she codirected the documentary “Les arbitres” (2009, a.k.a. “The Referees”) with the producers from the Belgian documentary TV show “Striptease.” It was selected for several festivals and distributed by Gaumont. She continued her documentary work with two films that she directed for Arte and RTBF: “Mode in Belgium” (2011), whose subject was the designer Jean-Paul Lespagnard, and “Une cheffe et sa bonne étoile” (2016, a.k.a. “A Chef and her Lucky Star”) about the Michelin-starred chef Isabelle Arpin.

In 2013, Delphine Lehericey released her first feature film, “Puppylove,” with Solène Rigot and Vincent Perez, which had its international premiere at the San Sebastián International Film Festival. Her second feature, “Le milieu de l’horizon” (2019, a.k.a. “Beyond the Horizon”), also premiered at San Sebastián, where it won the Greenpeace Lurra Prize. The cast included Laetitia Casta, Clémence Poesy, Thibaut Evrard and Luc Bruchez. The film was adapted from the Swiss novelist Roland Buti’s eponymous book.

“Beyond the Horizon” was presented at numerous festivals and won Best Film and Best Screenplay at the Swiss Film Awards in 2020. Between two feature films, Delphine also cowrote a graphic novel, “Etoilé,” about the world of gastronomy, that was published by Éditions Dupuis. Once again, with Box Productions, she developed her first TV series, “Les indociles,” adapted from its namesake graphic novel by Pitch Comment and Camille Rebetez. The series will be broadcast in late 2023.

Left, Delphine Lehericey, François Berléand, and Astrid Whettnall at the Brussels premiere of “Last Dance.” Right, Delphine Lehericey signing UGC’s guest book | Katrien Volders

French actor and screen veteran François Berléand, who plays Germain in “Last Dance,” was born in 1952. He discovered acting when he took a theater class while in business school. Once he finished his degree, he enrolled in Tania Bachalova’s drama school and met the stage director Daniel Benoin, with whom he worked from 1974 to 1981, taking part in several shows.

He started his film career in 1978, appearing in Alain Cavalier’s “Martin et Léa” (a.k.a. “Martin and Lea”). He was discovered by the public in Benoît Jacquot’s “Le septième ciel” (1997, a.k.a. “Seventh Heaven”); his role in Pierre Jolivet’s “Ma petite entreprise” (1999, a.k.a. “My Little Business”) earned him a César as Best Supporting Actor. He then appeared in a series of films directed by Bertrand Blier, Anne Fontaine, Nicole Garcia, Guillaume Canet, Gilles Lellouche, Christophe Barratier, Claude Chabrol, Radu Mihaileanu, Sylvie Testud, Dany Boon and Cédric Klapisch. He also regularly appears in short films, as well as TV series and TV movies.

Excelling in various performance arts, François Berléand, who is also a member of the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur (Officer of the Legion of Honor), has appeared in nearly 40 stage plays and over 125 movies. Apart from his César in 2000, he has been nominated for the Best Actor César for “Mon idole” (2002, a.k.a. “My Idol”) and Best Supporting Actor César for “Les choristes” (2004, a.k.a. “The Chorus”), and was also nominated for the Best Actor Molière Award for the stage play “Deux hommes tout nus” (2015, a.k.a. “Two Naked Men”).

Actors Astrid Whettnall, Jean-Benoît Ugeux, François Berléand, producer Elena Tatti and filmmaker Delphine Lehericey introducing “Last Dance” in Brussels | Film Talk

The press kit for “Last Dance” includes the following production statement by producer Elena Tatti.

‘After “Puppylove” and “Beyond the Horizon” (awarded the Grand Prix Swiss Award 2020 for Best Film and Best Screenplay), “Last Dance” is the third Delphine Lehericey film that we are producing. What a joy it is to pursue such a rich and stimulating collaboration with her: a mutual understanding that ceaselessly reinvents itself through time and with every new project.

“Last Dance” is the opportunity for Delphine Lehericey to realize an idea that she had wanted to explore for several years: depict the retirement years in a way that is both kind and humoristic, question the way we tend to treat old people like children and imagine a movie that speaks about mourning, love, as well as family relationships and friends. In short, tackling serious subjects with a dose of benevolent levity in the register of an art-house comedy. After two family dramas about a tormented adolescence, with “Last Dance,” she hopes to make people laugh as much as she moves them. And so we are taken on a journey along with Germain, a retired homebody who is suddenly plunged into the fascinating world of contemporary dance.

Producing and making this film was also a matter of family and encounters behind the camera: along with Delphine Lehericey, a part of our crew from “Beyond the Horizon” came back to collaborate with us, including Geneviève Maulini (costumes), Ivan Niclass (production design), and Nicolas Rabaeus (music). We were thrilled to work with Kacey Mottet Klein again, 14 years after “Home,” and young actors Lisa Harder and Luc Bruchez, who starred in Delphine’s latest film. There were also beautiful new encounters that left an impression on us: François Berléand, La Ribot, Déborah Lukumuena, Jean-Benoît Ugeux, Anna Pieri, Brigitte Rosset, Marie-Madeleine Pasquier, and the dancers that make up La Ribot’s dance company.

Thanks to the skillful way she was able to interweave the world of cinema and dance, including the gallery of touching and kind characters she imagined and her moving homage to ‘movement and the love that binds beings forever,’ according to her own words, Delphine, it seems to us, successfully achieved the goal she gave herself: create an original feel-good film with an art-house feel.’

“Last Dance” (2022, trailer)

LAST DANCE (2022) DIR Delphine Lehericey PROD Thierry Spicher, Elena Tatti SCR Delphine Lehericey, Martin CAM Hichame Alaouie ED Nicolas Rumpl MUS Nicolas Rabaeus CAST François Berléand, Kacey Mottet Klein, La Ribot, Déborah Lukumuena, Astrid Whettnall, Dominique Reymond, Sabine Timoteo