Babysitter: the audacity of Monia Chokri

Tackle subjects as delicate as misogyny and relations of domination in a comedy that flirts with horror and fantasy.

Babysitter: the audacity of Monia Chokri

Tackle subjects as delicate as misogyny and relations of domination in a comedy that flirts with horror and fantasy... This is the daring bet taken by actress and director Monia Chokri with her second feature, Babysitter, a adaptation of the play of the same title written by Catherine Léger.

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The starting point of the film is a bad sexist joke launched by Cédric (Patrick Hivon) at the end of a boxing fight which he attended with his friends. Pumped up, the new father of the family decides, on a whim, to kiss a journalist on the cheek who is recording a live broadcast on television.

Inevitably, the gesture will not go unnoticed and will quickly become viral on social networks. Immediately suspended by his employer and confronted by his journalist brother (Steve Laplante), Cédric will undertake therapy by embarking on the writing of a book of excuses addressed to women. Meanwhile, his girlfriend (Monia Chokri), in the throes of postpartum depression, will be tempted by strange games launched by a mysterious babysitter (Nadia Tereszkiewicz).

Catherine Léger wrote the play Babysitter a few years ago, before the rise of the movement

In an interview, Monia Chokri confides that she was “stunned” when she saw the play on the boards in 2018. “I found it very funny and intelligent, she recalls. When I met Catherine a few days later, I told her that I wanted to adapt it for the cinema and that I found it urgent to do so. »

The notions of consent and sexual assault having evolved a lot over the past few years, Monia Chokri and Catherine Léger (who also wrote the screenplay for the film) quickly decided to modify the nature of the gesture committed by the character of Cédric at the beginning of the film.

“In the room, it was really a voluntary aggression, recalls Monia Chokri. But in the film, it's more ambiguous: he kisses her on the cheek and says "I love you". He does not know that it is an attack, in any case. It's often like that with people who are accused or denounced in

power management

Even though misogyny is at the heart of the Babysitter story, Monia Chokri insists that it's not the main subject of the feature film. For her, it is rather the relationship of domination that forms the cornerstone of the film and of the story. "It's a big social problem. Domination is everywhere and in all relationships, even those between men. We have a problem with our management of power, ”she explains.

In terms of production, Monia Chokri inserted elements borrowed from fantasy and horror cinema to give her film the look of a modern and offbeat tale.

“For me, it was obvious that I had to tell this story in a storytelling atmosphere. But I did it because I thought it served the purpose well. I chose to use the codes of horror and erotic cinema because these are genres that objectified women and abused them. I take them, put them in a comedy and deconstruct them. »

Monia Chokri does not hide having felt enormous pressure to make this second feature film, after having achieved great popular and critical success with her first offering, the comedy My Brother's Wife, released in 2019. However, she took the risks venturing into a second film totally different from the first.

"It's part of my creative engine," she confirms. I don't want to do the same thing twice because it bores me. I like to put myself in danger, but it is above all also because I want to serve the purpose well. I always try to make the kind of film that seems to me more appropriate for the universe that I portray. »

♦ Babysitter hits theaters June 3.