Gad Elmaleh in the midst of a crisis of faith in “Rest a bit”

Second film by and with Gad Elmaleh, “Reste un peu” recounts the spiritual journey of this Sephardic Jew towards Catholicism. In the form of an autofiction, this intimate feature film oscillates between confession and humour.

After three years of living the “American dream”, comedian Gad Elmaleh decides to return to France. He misses his family and his friends. At least, that’s the official answer he gives to justify his return. In reality, he did not (only) return for his mother’s couscous, but it is another woman he has come to find in Paris: the Virgin Mary.

So much for the synopsis of “Reste un peu”, the second film by and with Moroccan-Canadian actor, humorist and director Gad Elmaleh, thirteen years after “Coco”. A feature film on the edge of introspective documentary and bittersweet comedy which, of course, is very funny, but which is in the register of confidence, even confession.

Born of Jewish parents, Gad Elmaleh had a Talmudic education. In this very personal film, he recounts his fascination for the Virgin Mary, which dates back to his childhood, his journey towards Catholicism and the reactions that this provoked within his family and those around him.

>> To see: the trailer for the film “Rest a little” by Gad Elmaleh

“I wanted it to ring true”

The comedian plays his own role, as do his parents, his sister and several religious who accompany him in his catechumenate (Christian journey of conversion), including a priest, a nun, but also Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur.

“I wanted it to ring true”, explains Gad Elmaleh to RTS, before specifying that his parents had become aware of his real fascination for the Virgin Mary only during the filming. Example in support with this sentence said by his mother in the film: “That’s enough cinema. You change god, you change your parents. Get adopted”, which was totally improvised and which came, not from l actress, but from the heart of a Jewish mother.

While the film is largely autobiographical, some scenes are fictionalized. The director does not insist on specifying what is true and what is not. “A documentary wouldn’t have been rich enough,” he says simply.

Questioning the weight of family and traditions

“Reste un peu” is not a plea for conversion to Catholicism, but a film about doubt and the spiritual journey. More broadly, Gad Elmaleh, who likes to deal with the question of identity, questions the weight of family and traditions, defending the right to question what has been arbitrarily given to us.

And to the question of where he was in his spiritual journey in real life, the comedian to answer: “I’m just getting started. I’m in research, in texts, in learning, I’m theology course. I want to understand, move forward and continue to ask myself questions”. And to suggest that under these conditions, a sequel to “Rest a little” is therefore very likely.

Interview by Anne-Laure Gannac

Web production: Andréanne Quartier-la-Tente with AFP

“Stay a bit”, by and with Gad Elmaleh. On view now in French-speaking cinemas.

Gad Elmaleh in the midst of a crisis of faith in “Rest a bit”