A French film director and critic, Mr. Jacky Goldberg talked about brilliance of the film “This is 40”, and the other works of Judd Apatow.
“This is 40”, a comedy and the fourth film by American director Judd Apatow, was screened at the 2015 Hiroshima International Film Festival. The film deals with the growing frustrations felt by a husband and wife in regards to their own relationship, those with their children and parents, and also problems in their work lives, while their many efforts to improve their situation are ultimately fruitless. This film showing a husband and wife dealing with their approaching 40th birthdays serves as a depiction of the everyday life of director Judd Apatow.
We asked Jacky Goldberg, a French film director and critic who was invited as a guest on the talk show after the film, about the brilliance of this film and the other works of Judd Apatow.
-What is your view of the works of Judd Apatow?
I first discovered him through his film “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” in 2005. The film was a roaring success in France, being seen by a huge amount of filmgoers. Although nearly all comedy movies are relatively short, I was deeply impressed by how this film was some two hours long, as well as being taken by the script and concept. I have been a film critic since 2007, but what made me become extremely interested in Apatow was seeing “Knocked Up”, released at that time, and how although the director had become famous in America, he was completely unknown in France and Japan. I was extremely interested in this point.
-Although I think that most people expect roaring laughs from a comedy film, I feel that “This is 40” is really a movie about “Life” that makes you think about how you should go on to live your own life.
The works of Judd Apatow are sort of a betrayal of the traditional American comedies that rely on physical gags in that his films are interesting and entertaining fusions of comedy and drama using language to provoke laughter. In “This is 40”, Apatow depicts his own life, and both his wife and daughters act in the film. He wholly projects his own life into this movie with the only real difference being that he is portrayed as a music producer as opposed to being a film producer.
-As this is a film that serves as a projection of the real life of the director, the events in the film do not have external causes, but rather are problems that have affected Apatow’s own life and his family, and the film depicts the manner in which they actually try to resolve them. For this reason, the film is without a certain artificial showiness and the situations haven’t been changed to be more theatrical, have they?
Apatow’s films never have a villain. They are films that question the way we live life in general: dealing with our own existence, the fear of loss, and how to live on for another day. Although he is currently a successful person, his films present someone beset by the fear of losing everything. A main thread running through Apatow’s films is that these themes are not depicted in a serious manner but rather allow us to laugh at our own lives.
-(Question from the audience) It really is an unforgettable film. I wonder if we can get his other films here in Japan?
They should be in the comedy section. My personal recommendation would be for “Funny People”, a two and half hour long full-length film featuring Adam Sandler, who is certainly well-known here in Japan also.
I think one reason that Apatow’s works haven’t become popular in Japan is that you have to be familiar with American culture to understand the humor. Nonetheless, I think that they consist of ubiquitous global themes that anyone with a family, wife or child, or who has felt anxiety about the future can certainly relate to. All the characters appearing in Apatow’s films are persons who think, “I want to make myself a better person morally.” I think the appeal of Apatow’s films are this fusion of the conflict between characters who are admittedly egotistical yet want to be more kind to other persons also.
After this in-depth discussion of the works of Judd Apatow provided by Jacky Goldberg, he presented a screening of his own film “This is Comedy” about this same American film director.