Unleashing the Absurd: Fabrice Caro Explores Compromise in Art in ‘Journal of a Scenario’

2023-09-27 18:30:47

The French cartoonist and illustrator Fabrice Caro has signed a funny and lucid fifth novel, which questions compromise in a work of art. To do this, he does not hesitate to raise the level of the absurd to the maximum in an unstoppable and spectacular crescendo.

Fabrice Caro, aka Fabcaro or simply Fab, is a writer, designer and musician. Author of more than thirty comic strips, he became famous in 2015, thanks to “Zaï zaï zaï zaï”, a comic strip which was adapted for the cinema, then regularly for the theater. The French writer also publishes novels, such as “Figurec” (2006), and “Le Discourse” (2018).

The newspaper to tell the story of success

In his “Journal of a Scenario”, readers meet Boris, a screenwriter in the middle of writing a black and white auteur film.

This love tragedy called “Silent Servitudes” will bring together Louis Garrel and Mélanie Thierry for the first time on screen; a couple that the narrator does not hesitate to compare to Romy Schneider and Alain Delon in the drama “La Piscine” by Jacques Deray released in 1969.

Overjoyed, Boris starts this diary to talk about his success: in fact, his script is spotted and validated by a famous local producer, Jean Chabloz, who promises him “that together they will make a beautiful film”. Little by little, over the pages and to please a major television channel, the screenwriter will have to change his point.

In my eyes, the most appropriate medium to talk about compromise in art was cinema. There are so many means at play between the producer, the director, the actors, that it makes it easier to lose the original idea.

Fabrice Caro

An uncompromising fall

It all starts with the casting change: the glamorous couple chosen by Boris becomes a couple of old friends. In this new version, Louis Garrel is replaced by Kad Merad and Mélanie Thierry by Christian Clavier. Then, it’s the turn of the dialogues: the romantic and tragic exchanges must now give way to excessive humor. Finally, to prolong the loss, the title he had chosen is replaced by something more explicit; Boris wanted to write a contemporary tragedy, so he ended up writing a bold comedy. A shipwreck that the readership witnesses, dumbfounded.

Inject comedy? Injecting comedy into a breakup story? (…) Why not inject comedy into “Elephant Man”? (…) After all, let’s get people back into the theaters, let’s inject some comedy, yay, all that. And what a hideous verb, to inject, as one injects botox into an aging epidermis to make it appear more dapper.

Excerpt from “Journal d’un scenario” by Fabrice Caro

“We’re going to make a beautiful film!”

For Fabrice Caro, if it is possible to detect a criticism in his novel, it lies in the fact of hierarchizing the arts. Indeed, a comedy has as much value as a drama and vice versa, because everything is a question of emotion, the only valid criterion, according to the French author. An idea that he admirably develops in his “Journal d’un scenario”.

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During the writing process, the novel was titled “We’re going to make a beautiful film!”. A phrase that Boris’s producer, Jean Chabloz, reminds him of constantly in order to reassure him in his creative approach.

We are going to make a beautiful film. A phrase that I’ve been repeating to myself over and over again since this morning, still finding it hard to believe. There is something reassuring and artisanal about it, it exudes beautiful work and hands in the earth.

Excerpt from “Journal d’un scenario” by Fabrice Caro

The sentence punctuates the novel like a clever refrain, a sort of gimmick which accompanies the readership until the end of the novel, in a spectacular and cruelly funny manner.

Layla Shlonsky/sc

Fabrice Caro, “Journal of a scenario”, ed. Gallimard.

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