Australian actor-director Alice Englert on bad behavior

When Australian actor-turned-director Alice Englert went on a spiritual retreat with her mother, Oscar-winning director Jane Campion, she had a revelation.

“I remember having what I thought was a breakthrough experience, where I was remembering being born and coming out,” explains Englert, whose father Colin Englert is also a filmmaker. broadsheet Having coffee in Melbourne. “My mother was listening. And she was like, ‘This is great.’ You had a caesarean operation, but I am happy that you had a caesarean operation.

The world of the retreat inspired Englert’s directorial debut, a dark comedy Bad behavior, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year. Filmed in New Zealand, it follows Lucy (Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly), a former child actor who turns to a self-proclaimed guru (a very amusing Ben Whishaw) to address her own issues. She attends a wellness retreat in the U.S., as well as works with him. He has a complicated relationship with his daughter Dylan (Englert), a stuntman working in New Zealand.

Bad behavior It is the first full-length film that the 29-year-old Englert has directed, after several short films and an impressive acting career, which has included roles in beautiful creatures And top of the lake,

Whereas Bad behavior was partially influenced by Englert’s own retreat experiences, she states that the feature is entirely fictional, and that she is actually a fan of meditation retreats. she says Bad behavior You have been embraced by the retreat community.

“The retreat community really loves the film,” she says, laughing.

thought Bad behavior While it satirizes wellness cults and the entertainment industry, it also portrays a complex mother-daughter relationship. Englert says balancing these two elements was one of his biggest challenges.

“(That) was my only real focus. “We weren’t really playing things for laughs, because I think drama is actually inherently very funny.”

One of the highlights of making the film was working with stars Connelly and Whishaw. Englert says both artists were committed and collaborative.

“Jennifer is incredibly talented and collaborative. Ben has such a deep, wonderful soul and is so sweet, so much fun. I wanted the guru to be someone I could really trust.

Englert laughs, “There was a time when we were joking that maybe we should build a retreat around Ben and create a Ben cult, and Netflix could make a documentary about a movie that took off. Was.”

Having shared the set with actors such as Jeremy Irons and Octavia Spencer, Englert had plenty of experience making the film. Yet the most useful advice came from Campion, who plays a small role as a nurse.

“He’s given me a lot of good advice my whole life,” Englert says. “She would never say do that again or just do that. (She always said), It’s an interesting place. Stay in that place.”

Englert plans to make another feature and continue working in acting. Looking back she says she has grown and learned from the experience of producing Bad behavior,

“It was a really amazing feeling of, ‘I’m going to let this world be me and make it as weird and honest and uncomfortable as I can.'”

Bad behavior In theaters now.

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