New York, I Love You: Yvan Attal in Soho

New York I Love You New York I Love You

Yvan Attal’s segment of “New York, I Love You” stars Ethan Hawke and Chris Cooper. The film, whose concept was created by Emmanuel Benihby, is being release October 16, 2009 by Vivendi Entertainment.

A fast-talking romancer (two-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke, TRAINING DAY, BEFORE SUNSET) engages in a provocative seduction of a ravishing woman (Maggie Q, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) on the curb outside a Soho restaurant… only to discover, as the tables are turned, that she’s not the kind who can be seduced. What the man calls “quite an intimate situation” turns out to be more of a unique encounter than he ever expected.

This comic New York moment is one of two in NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU that have emerged from the vision of Israeli-born French director and actor Yvan Attal, who collaborated on the screenplay with the young French writer Olivier Lécot. Attal began his career as an award-winning actor (and continues to act, recently starring in Steven Spielberg’s MUNICH and Brett Ratner’s RUSH HOUR 3) and made his directing debut with MY WIFE IS AN ACTRESS, starring Attal’s real-life wife, Charlotte Gainsbourg. He followed that with the critically praised dramatic comedy AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER starring Johnny Depp and Gainsbourg. Both parts of Attal’s segments were shot by French cinematographer Benoit Debie (JOSHUA, IRREVERSIBLE).

Benbihy recalls that Attal came to the project brimming with ideas. “He proposed a number of different stories that all involved encounters by people smoking cigarettes in a restaurant,” he says. “The two we used are very complementary, and they support the unity of the film. They both start with the same naughty, sexy feeling and they each end with something different from what you expect.”

Indeed in the first segment, what appears to be a man’s seduction turns into a unique encounter. “For every girl who has ever been at the other end of that kind of hard pitch, it’s great to see Maggie Q get the last laugh,” says Grasic. “But the piece is also wrought with a lot of interesting themes about how people meet and how hard it is to make the first move. I think a lot of people will really relate to Ethan Hawke and enjoy his outrageousness in this piece.”

Despite the quintessential New York situations Attal was shooting, this marked the first time Attal ever filmed in New York. “Yvan is a great collaborator,” notes Benbihy, “and everyone loved working with him. He is very sensitive to actors and he hinged his pieces on the performances.”

Maggie Q was attracted to the chance to work in such a collaborative environment – and to her feisty character. “Collaborating at this level with all the people involved in this project was so different and exciting,” she says. “I also liked that my segment was so funny. Love is so serious most of the time, and it’s nice to have a laugh. Women getting the upper hand in a really smart and funny way always kills me. Is it a quintessential New York moment? The women of New York often have a level of toughness and a quick wit, so I think you just have to say yes.”

A second New York moment from Yvan Attal starts much the same way as his first, with a man and woman bumping into one another while stepping outside of a restaurant for a smoke. This time it is the woman (Robin Wright Penn, STATE OF PLAY, FOREST GUMP) who is the seductress and the man (Academy Award winner Chris Cooper, AMERICAN BEAUTY, BREACH) who is taken aback by the urgency of her come-on. Yet, when both return to their seats in the restaurant, the secret they share is revealed.

“I love this piece because it completely surprises you,” says Grasic. “We talked about ending it with tears and also with ending it with a laugh but it was Yvan Attal’s stroke of genius to combine both. Yvan really leaves you wanting to know more about these people. The way he shoots, everything is very carefully balanced and creatively wrought. It’s so entertaining and accessible you don’t realize all that went into making it.”


Call Girl MAGGIE Q
Director of Photography BENOIT DEBIE