Julie Delpy’s sixth feature as a director, the dark comedy Lolo, tackles the problem of dealing with sociopathic offspring. Delpy plays Violette, a woman who works in fashion and becomes unexpectedly smitten with a man in the computer-programming business, Jean-René (Dany Boon), whom she meets on vacation. When their relationship becomes more than a holiday fling, Jean-René meets Violette’s 19-year-old son, Lolo (Vincent Lacoste). The moment we first see Lolo there, it’s impossible to ignore the sadistic nature in his eyes. We soon witness both his sad dependence on his mother’s affection and the sociopathic forms that dependence takes as he embarks on pranks against Jean-René in an effort to tear him away from his mother — pranks that turn exceedingly perverse and destructive.
We spoke with Delpy about what inspired the sadistic Lolo, how her own son is a charming bunny, and how to detect a sociopath.
Lolo, he’s an interesting guy. What inspired you to create such a character?
I wanted to talk about different things — a single mom dealing with her teenage son. Also a woman who is a victim of a sociopath without knowing it because often people don’t know they are til it’s too late [Laughs], until they’re closed in. It’s a combination of things, I wanted to create all those characters and then the very genuine new boyfriend who could bring so much happiness to this woman’s life. I just like the dark-comedy vibe to it. In a way, he’s inspired by some of those movies like Bad Seed or Children of the Damned, where your own enemy is your own flesh and blood. There’s nothing worse. Because what do you do when your only child is bringing you so much sorrow? Either you’re in denial or you acknowledge it and it’s a very painful thing. I’ve seen friends dealing with teenage kids, it’s the most painful thing for parents.
For parents, too, they always take the blame. I’m wondering what you think of this idea of fostering craziness. Your character, how do you think she ended up raising such a sociopath? Or do you think her parenting had little to do with it?
That’s the question that you always ask as a parent. How do you raise children in a way that they’re happy and functioning? And obviously you don’t want children being depressed. You don’t want children being unhappy. You don’t want children being sociopaths. What did she do wrong? I don’t think she did something specifically wrong. I think for Lolo, he started off with a little bit of a lack of empathy as a child, which might have been from birth. I sadly believe that some people are born less kind than others [Laughs]. And then I think that whatever she did, nothing wrong, but she let him step all over her all the time, which is probably the worst thing she could do. You need authority of some kind and it wasn’t there to stop him. So, you eventually turn into a monster. I definitely know a few sociopaths, a few narcissists, and I really know their functioning. Sometimes it makes me laugh because I’m a person who doesn’t see through that stuff often. But now I’m starting to see through their shit game and it’s really funny. If you think about it, it’s hilarious. Once you actually see who they are, it’s almost ridiculous.