by FilmInk Staff

“It took six years to make Paris Can Wait (2016),” Coppola told FilmInk, “and it came out on my 80th birthday.” Coppola did not want, she says, to wait that long to make another. Produced on a shoestring, the new film was shot with different crews over a long period, beginning she says, three years ago.

Still best known for Hearts of Darkness, made with Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper, about husband Francis’ troubles shooting Apocalypse Now, Eleanor has been working steadily over the last thirty years, mostly in documentary (including, notably, two behind the scenes films; Coda, on on Francis’ Youth without Youth, and daughter Sofia’s Marie Antoinette).

Pulling together an impressive cast including Cybil Shepard, Joanne Whalley, Kathy Baker, Rosanna Arquette and Rita Wilson, Coppola creates a sweet natured, femme centred dramedy. Cosy in atmosphere, it has an emotional depth that arrives without expectation; like a much-adored special friend on a surprise visit.

FilmInk zoomed with Eleanor Coppola from Paris where she is en route to visit her son Roman, who is on location in Spain, working with Wes Anderson on his new picture.

Talk about how you started on Love is Love is Love.

“I took what came in [money-wise] from Paris Can Wait and approached this as a project in three parts, because I was not willing to wait six years to find the funding to make the next film I wanted to make.

“One of the major costs on Paris Can Wait was travelling in France with a crew. This time I literally made a film in my own backyard.

“In the first short, Two for Dinner with Whalley (Scandal, Tin Star) and Chris Messina (Argo), the two characters having dinner were shot on two locations on the Coppola property. One was a set inside [our] winery and another was a set inside a bunkhouse we have.

“I got this cinematographer that Francis had used, Mihai Malaimare, Jr. (Tetro, The Master) to shoot it, and he came with his family, and they had a vacation in the Napa Valley. Some time elapsed before I could get it together for the second story Sailing Lesson. That was borne out of necessity since we were working without a budget, and it was a matter of calling in favours.

“I knew I needed a cinematographer that knew how to sail. It was a complex project because it was on the water. It just so happened that my son went to school with this cinematographer who was a good sailor, that was Toby Irwin (Smart People). We shot that one on a yacht on a lake only about twenty miles from our home.”

Two for Dinner is an amusing light comedy about a couple who go to a restaurant on ‘date night’. But it’s all ‘virtual’.

“I got the idea when I was interviewing an actor online and he was in Canada, and I was someplace else. He told me that he had an actor friend who did Skype dates with his wife when he’s on location.

“I thought it was a good idea for a short. I’ve been on location with a lot of couples and there are a lot of stresses and strains and temptations and opportunities.

“It was a familiar theme I wanted to express. I thought it was innovative at the time. But now, after Covid, a lot of people are having relationships online! I’m afraid when people look at this and they see it, it’s gonna look so out of date! [Laughs].”

The second film is almost straight-out comedy. It presents this couple played by Kathy Baker (The Right Stuff, Saving Mr Banks) and Marshall Bell (Starship Troopers) who seem to have it all! It’s a movie about the ‘problem’ of being happy!!

“Over the years, I’ve known a lot of women who have been married to men fifteen-twenty years older than them. As the men retire, they have a really hard time adjusting; the men are used to being head of the company. They have a certain status.

“But once they retire, they don’t know why they are not at ease! They think they will be at ease if they just get this sports car or if they get a girlfriend [laughs].

“So, the story is speaking to that adjustment where women seem able to step into retirement mode much more easily than men. Women I know, who try to help their husbands, they don’t make dramatic mistakes and end a long marriage. I wanted to work that premise.”

The characters don’t feel ‘written’. They feel like real people.

“They are really a combination of people I know.”

Tell us about how you worked with your co-writer, Karen Leigh Hopkins?

“I have a grasp on story, and I know what I want to say. But Karen Hopkins (Little Voice) creates a more humorous dynamic. She’s a comedy writer who can lighten it up.”

The last episode of the film is different in scale to the first two, which are basically two-handers. It’s a big dinner party and all the major roles are female; including Cybil Shepard, Roseanna Arquette and a really great Rita Wilson.

“I don’t know those women personally. They were so eager to work together. They are kind of at that age where they are not being asked to work on many projects. So, they were very enthusiastic and cooperative and helpful. It was just a wonderful experience to bring them together. They all knew each other incidentally.”

It’s tonally different to the other films here. It has Maya Kazan (The Knick) playing a daughter hosting a memorial dinner for her late mother.

“That was shot in a house in San Francisco, the very house of the woman that inspired the story! Her children had inherited it, it was unfurnished, and they let us have it as a location.”

There’s a special intimacy between women captured in that one that you don’t often see in films.

“It emerged out of a lunch I had been invited to. A friend had passed away and this lunch was hosted by her daughter in law. There were some really interesting conversations emerged out of that experience.

“I really wanted to capture it because [it seemed to me] to be a particularly feminine thing… I don’t think men [talk like that] or do that exactly! I encouraged the actors to bring so much of their own story to it.

“So many men I’ve spoken to, who have seen the film, said they were really interested because they had never been in that kind of environment.

“It is particular to women, and a very common experience for women, I think.”

LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE is in cinemas now

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