In a creative output that saw her add a harvest of three feature films in the last five years, after 2019’s A Brother’s Love and 2022’a Babysitter we now find Monia Chokri celebrating lightning in a bottle attraction, longing, and what it looks like when we rationalize surrendering to our emotions and abandoning our safeguards. Her third oeuvre Simple comme Sylvain (aka The Nature of Love) has ties to her astounding debut short Quelqu’un d’extraordinaire (2013) where actress Magalie Lépine-Blondeau began as perhaps Chokri’s creative muse. Sporting autumn browns and on one occasion wearing dish gloves, here Lépine-Blondeau steps into the character of Sophia, a 40-year-old philosophy professor who finds herself well beyond the seven-year itch, as her world is thrown into chaos, leaving her to ponder, “should I stay or should I go?”
After premiering in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival, Simple comme Sylvain would have its North American premiere at the 2023 Toronto Intl Film Festival — the lieu of where I got to speak to Monia and her muse Magalie Lépine Blondeau. We discussed how their creative collaboration has evolved over the past decade, the framework of her character set and some of the influences that determined the look of the film.