Ethan Hawke on Tuesday praised the late Jean-Luc Godard for transforming cinema, as the actor’s new black comedy Raymond & Ray about coping with grief and death premiered at the Toronto film festival.

Hawke and Ewan McGregor star in the Apple TV+ film about two half-brothers struggling to deal with the loss of their charismatic but abusive father, which had its world premiere at North America’s largest film festival.

The pair spoke to AFP on Tuesday just hours after the news of pioneering French New Wave director Godard’s death broke.

“I think it’s obvious and self-evident that he changed cinema, changed the way people think about the moving image, and how rare that is,” said Hawke.

“Every generation seems to have one or two voices that really penetrate and he was definitely one of them.”

Godard, a legendary maverick who blew up the conventions of cinema in the 1960s with classic films such as Breathless, Contempt and Pierrot le Fou, died by assisted suicide Tuesday at the age of 91, sending cinephiles around the world into mourning.

Appropriately, Hawke described his new film as a “meditation on what is the right way to grieve”.

Raymond and Ray travel to the funeral of their father, a man who treated them with contempt throughout their adult lives, but who they discover is adored and idolised by everyone else in his life.

“What’s the right way for anger to manifest? What’s the right way to accept your life? What’s the right way to forgive?

“What I love about the movies is it doesn’t have an answer – it just really presents some really interesting questions.”

Famous father

Raymond & Ray, out on Apple TV+ streaming platform October 21, is directed by Rodrigo Garcia – the son of the late, revered Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

While Garcia said the movie is not autobiographical, it explores the gulf between the way that family members view their parents, and how the same people are seen by the rest of the world.

“I think that’s the case, because only they are the sons, everyone else gets a different version of that person,” Garcia told AFP.

Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the father of director Rodrigo Garcia. Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFPColombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the father of director Rodrigo Garcia. Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP

“I think that’s not uncommon. Ultimately no matter how close you are, even in the best of cases, there’s always that question – how well do parents know their children and how well do children know their parents?”

But while Garcia has become an acclaimed director in his own right, the sons in his film were “not allowed to grow up” by their abusive father.

“Parents have to encourage children, give them permission to become grownups. That’s what adolescence is about,” said Garcia.

“I think these men were not – they were kept as ‘less than’ by this father.”

‘Greyness and mystery’

Hawke said he was drawn to the project, produced by Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron, by the strength of the writing, which holds “two contrary truths at the same time”.

Raymond and Ray’s father “is a wonderful lover... a wonderful friend and a political thinker – and a terrible father.”

“Usually, we don’t leave a lot of room for the greyness and the mystery of life,” he added.

“They only know their relationship to their father, and that relationship is really hurt and damaged.

“But they’re learning there that they didn’t really know the whole man.”

The movie has drawn early praise from critics, with Deadline noting the “lovely sad-sack energy” between its lead actors and predicting the movie “could creep on voters” in the coming film awards season.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs until Sunday.


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