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‘Start Over’: Reconstruction of a Shattered Woman

After ‘Mamma Mia!’ And ‘The Iron Lady’, Phyllida Lloyd takes a look at the drama of gender violence

Few careers more atypical than Phyllida Lloyd’s. With what it costs to debut in the cinema, she started in style with the blockbuster Mamma Mia! Reputed theater director, in Start Again (Herself), which opens in theaters this Friday, December 4, faces the portrait of gender violence.

But Lloyd is anything but conventional and she has demonstrated this again with the genesis of her new project. “We were on tour with our feminist theater company doing Enrique IV. It was a theatrical version of the Shakespearean classic with only women and performed in prisons. We were surprised by the number of inmates who came from domestic violence settings. ”

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In NY, actress Clare Dunne received a call: a friend of hers from Dublin, was going to be evicted with three children. The actress, without experience in the world of cinema, immediately began to write a script joining the two things: an abused mother who decides to build a home for her daughters. “And when she finished it and showed it to me, I told her that I wasn’t going to direct it if she wasn’t the protagonist.”

Dunne stands out as Sandra, a Dubliner who finds inspiration for her troubles in Ireland’s patron saint, St. Bridget. “We wanted to capture the Irish housing crisis. The arrival of multinationals in the country has made having a home an impossible mission ”.

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It is not the only nod to the island culture: “It is a tough film, but full of hope. I am passionate about the Irish concept of meitheal, the collaboration of the community when one of its members is in danger. They put it into practice in front of and behind the cameras: “When you have a small budget and only five weeks of shooting, you have to help out.”

Prisons, Greek islands paradise, and the construction of a house in a Dublin garden… How do you deal with the dramatic space? “It’s funny, I have realized that low-budget films are a lot like theater: everything starts with an empty space that has to be filled. It is the essence of my work ”.

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