Today, France 3 is broadcasting “Murders in the Friuli Islands” with Francis Huster (“Here It All Begins”) and Jeremy Banster (“Un Si Grand Soleil”) as police father and son. They, like no one else, explain to us the features of this “Murder in …”.
After airing earlier in the year the series Mertres en Blois and Mertres et Mont Saint-Michel, the successful detective collection France 3 returns tonight with a new opus called Mertres in the Frioul Islands that immerses Francis Huster (this is where it all starts) and Jeremy Banster (Un Si Grand Soleil) in an investigation unlike any other, set against the backdrop of father-son rivalry, hidden secrets and Alexandre Dumas.
The Frioulian Murders, directed by Sylvia Em (Mertres in Toulouse, Souvenir Encounters) from a script by David Crozier and Camille Guichard, begins with the death of a well-known Marseille publisher, found murdered in the Frioulian Islands in the middle of a theatrical performance. Performance of the Count of Monte Cristo.
Investigator Victor Mariani, a young SRPJ captain from Marseille, is surprised to find his father, Pierre Mariani, the legendary retired commissioner of Lyon, at the crime scene. The victim, a former military comrade whom he has not seen for 50 years, Pierre is assigned as a consultant on the investigation. Which is not to the taste of Victor, who did everything to get away from this too intrusive father.
But, above all, Victor is far from understanding the tragic secret that connects his father with the victim, as well as with his own origin …
Meeting at the Monte Carlo TV Festival last year, a few months after filming, Frances Huster and Jeremy Bunser told us more about this TV movie and their duo on screen and on set.
AlloCiné: What did you immediately like about Murders in the Friuli Islands when France 3 asked you to play Pierre and Victor Mariani?
Jeremy Bunster A: It was whole. The characters and the script first, because there’s a real rivalry between this father and this son, and there’s a lot left unsaid. And finally, this somewhat forced joint investigation will force them to confess several truths to each other, it is fascinating and very well written.
Then, of course, Marcel, it was a pleasure to shoot in such an environment. Under the direction of Sylvia Aime, a wonderful director. And with Francis Huster as a partner. What could be better? When I received the script, I didn’t hesitate for a second.
In addition, there is a theme that I adore, this is kinship, this father-son transmission. This is something that appears very often in all the films that I have been able to defend, even as a director and screenwriter. It was inconceivable that I should not have taken part in this adventure.
Francis Huster : For my part, what fascinated me about The Frioul Island Murders was the opportunity to finally get out of the frame. Ann Holmes [la directrice de la fiction française de France Télévisions, ndlr] created this collection with incredible success. I think there were over 70 episodes. Sylvie Em has already made “Meurtres à…”, “Murders in Toulouse”, which has become a record for the collection.
And when I read the script, which parallels The Count of Monte Cristo, I told myself that this would be the only one of all the Murders in… that was not like any other. This is a 1950s film, a la Hitchcock, a la Kazan, which means it gives a completely modern image of Marseille.
This time we don’t find all the Marseille clichés that we see too often on screen. We are completely modern, far from the outdated image of the French Connection. The TV movie offers great views of Marseille. Police stations are located in huge ultra-modern buildings. It sucks, really. And the secondary characters in the TV movie are the same as those Hollywood movies, they are extraordinary. This is a hell of a movie and a hell of a movie about the characters.
Did you know each other before doing this TV movie?
Jeremy Bunster: We dated but didn’t know each other. We actually met at work. We worked a lot before filming, met on the weekends, all three of us with Sylvie Aimé. We were able to dissect the script, deepen our characters. So when we arrived at the set, we were already in full confidence. We were on the line. All it took was a few looks for Sylvia to perfect her acting skills towards us.
And, obviously, it was very nice to play with Francis. He is a very generous person. And the very fact of shooting with an actor like him inevitably pushes us to surpass ourselves and give our best with every take.
Francis Huster: It was a joy. But, you know, I had to take it upon myself during this shoot (laughs). Every morning I counted how many close-ups Sylvia was going to shoot with Jeremy Bunster. Because, frankly, we lost count of the moments when she shot him close up, or the scenes where she was half naked (laughs).
Do you have the feeling that this “Meurtres à…” also stands out among the other opuses of the collection thanks to this duet of father and son and thanks to all its characters?
Francis Huster: Of course. You know, the duo exists primarily and primarily thanks to other actors. So it was with Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven or with Gabin and Ventura. And this TV movie is another proof of that.
I believe that the courage of Sylvia Aimé is not to be satisfied with her acting duet. She knows how to trust all her actors, each leads a TV movie in their own way. The success of this film comes from that state of mind. As in the novels of Agatha Christie, we have minor characters who fascinate us and make us almost forget Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.
Jeremy Bunster: It’s true, everyone is very honest. Everyone has their moment, their account. Sylvie managed to isolate and isolate each of them. And it’s not always obvious in the TV movie. This film is part of the collection “Meurtres à…”, and at the same time it exists on its own, thanks to Marcel, this duo of police officers and these formidable characters that are around.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Marseille filmed in this way. In a positive way. We often see this presented rather bleakly. There we have the vibrant city of Marseille, we have Frioul, we have the Château d’If, we have the Mediterranean and the districts of Marseille. And it’s nice to see it on screen.