Writer-director Ira Sachs on his new film ‘Passages’

Tomas and Martin are a married couple. They live in Paris, where Tomas is a film director – comes home one morning after a cast party with an unconvincing explanation that leads to a confession. (SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “PASSAGES”) FRANZ ROGOWSKI: (As Tomas) You know what I was doing last night? BEN WHISHAW: (As Martin) No, but whatever it was, you sound very excited. ROGOWSKI: (As Tomas) I had sex with a woman. SIMON: The couple's personal drama sets off a of betrayals and complexities of love and desire in Ira Sachs' new film, “Passages,” starring Franz Rogowski and Ben Whishaw. And Ira Sachs, whose previous films include “Little Men” and “Forty Shades of Blue,” joins us from New York. Thanks so much for being with us. IRA SACHS: Thank you, Scott. It's great to be here. SIMON: Before we touch on what draws Tomas and Martin apart, as a filmmaker, do you need to know what brought them together? SACHS: Yes. I think I need to understand the chemistry and the attraction between both the characters and also the actors; what would make them feel authentic in a couple and as part of a relationship and also two performers together on screen. SIMON: Tomas, the film director, is hard to like. Is it a creative challenge to have a central character who is so unsympathetic and self-centered? SACHS: You know, I think there's a difference between the character and the actor. So Franz Rogowski is the opposite of that – who plays Tomas. He's so compelling and alluring to me and I think to a lot of people that I think he – you see someone playing someone who is really involved with themselves. And there's a difference. One of the things we did when we made the film was we watched a number of movies with James Cagney, specifically “White Heat” and “Public Enemy.” And in a way, that gave us the permission because in both those films, you see Cagney playing an absolute sociopath but so beautifully and with such charm that it's really magnetic […]

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