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France – first-look evaluation

Léa Seydoux performs a TV journalist in Bruno Dumont’s satire-of-sorts about France’s relationship with its media and itself.

Bruno Dumont’s newest opens with the movie’s title, in white textual content on a black background: “France”. Then a shot of the French flag, and a pan all the way down to Léa Seydoux, who stars as a tv journalist named, sure, France. (Her full title is France de Meurs.) Her first order of enterprise is to grill Emmanuel Macron at a press convention, which Dumont assembles out of actual information footage, inserting Seydoux into the proceedings with shot-reverse-shot patterns and digital compositing.

Seydoux has been almost ubiquitous at Cannes this 12 months; she dangers carrying too slim a groove together with her performances, which regularly name forth a well-known managed flirtatiousness, a withholding smile and a secret disappointment. It’s so refreshing to see Seydoux in a extra broad, free mode as France flirts with the President earlier than slamming him with a Paxman-tier poser, then gesticulates excitedly together with her producer/assistant Lou (Blanche Gardin) in the back of the room, pulling faces and humping the air.

The opening scenes of France promise a brazen slash by the higher echelons of latest French politics and media, however that’s not what Dumont has in thoughts. As an alternative, the reckoning promised by the title comes by a considerably cryptic analysis of France’s melancholy and disillusionment.

Although France, befitting her movie star, wears costly, stylist-approved outfits, she’s usually caught in a temper of tearful inertia. Seydoux remains to be going self-consciously large with the efficiency, France remains to be sucking up all of the oxygen within the room, however there’s precise pathos to it since France’s depressive erratic behaviour coexists with damp, low-energy wallows. (Gardin’s snappy, avid efficiency because the ever-hustling Lou makes an amusing distinction.)

Oppressed by her fame, and responsible at her privilege, France makes an attempt tone-deaf acts of semi-public contrition and a visit to a German alpine sanitarium – shades, with the latter, of The Magic Mountain, with an analogous ambient backdrop of a dying European order.

The glib elites who function France’s panel present company and profit dinner desk mates are fixed reminders of late-stage neoliberalism and the anaemic EU; the malaise additionally hits nearer to house, the place France endures an sad marriage to an egotistical novelist in a frigid and immense bourgeois maison, and in Dumont’s course, through which digital camera placement, pacing and tone can typically appear arbitrary and immune to interpretation.

What’s flawed with France? On frequent reporting journeys to warfare zones, which she broadcasts on her nightly newsmagazine present, she directs her cameraman to get staged pictures of actual hazard, and swears at herself and says variations on “We’ll do it once more,” because the bullets fly. Generally breaks down and cries for no motive, which she typically decides is sweet tv, heartstrings-tugging reporting. Her segments proceed in roughly chronological order, from joint war-on-terror missions, to depopulated Center Japanese cities diminished to rubble, to the migrant disaster on the Mediterranean.

Her segments are shallow and staged, however regardless of being Exhibit A in Dumont’s analysis of a sick society, they’re not clearly sensationalist or irresponsible in comparison with a lot precise European tabloid media. France’s illness – the individual and the nation – is tough to pin down. Dumont’s indictment is holistic, possibly even religious, and satire with out an articulated goal is a difficult and delicate factor to tug off. France typically appears like a state-of-the-nation deal with written in invisible ink.

Printed 18 Jul 2021

Tags: Bruno Dumont Cannes Léa Seydoux On a Half Clear Morning

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