IFFR Review: France

DIRECTED BY

Bruno Dumont

STARRING

Léa Seydoux, Blanche Gardin, Benjamin Biolay, Emanuele Arioli, Juliane Köhler, Gaëtan Amiel, Jawad Zemmar and Marc Bettinelli

.

SYNOPSIS

A celebrity journalist, juggling her busy career and personal life, has her life over-turned by a freak car accident.

.

France is a drama written and directed by Bruno Dumont. The film focuses on France de Meurs, a journalist and television star who has her own show called France de Meurs: Un Regard Sur Le Monde (France de Meurs: A View of the World). While we see how she juggles her celebrity status along with her career and personal life, one freak car accident leads to a spiral of events that begins to lead to her downfall.

IFFR Review of France

The film opens with an impressive piece of editing archive footage to blend with their own footage as we are in the Élysée palace as France asks a question to President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the way that it plays out, I’m expecting the rest of the film to play out as a satirical dramatic-comedy. Dumont examines and calls out the current state of media as a whole, as the viewing public takes what a television personality says as gospel, and we see how France uses this platform to chase stories that will keep her in the spotlight and even putting herself into the stories to remain in the spotlight. In one of the stories that recurs during the film is that she follows militia group that France have armed to fight ISIS (unnamed country I believe) and we see how she’s so specific in the way she has shots framed and the questions that she asks the subjects that she’s interviewing, and how she frames it in a way that work the narrative that she wants to put across to the public, which her producer-friend Lou laps up and boosts her ego at every turn.

.

It’s when the freak car accident occurs however is when Dumont shows the other side of the media, how no one is spared from the public eye once you reach a particular status. While Lou blasts them for such methods, France constantly reminds her that they’re doing their job and that they would be doing the same in their position. It’s a cynical and sneering piece from Dumont on media and France in general, as we witness her trying to find ways to change her image in the public eye after the accident, but struggles to know how and becomes a shell of the woman we initially met.

.

Léa Seydoux has always been a fascinating actress to watch and her portrayal of France is no exception. There are a lot of close-ups of her frowning, smiling, being sad, joking around whilst in a war zone, and we witness her character go through somewhat of an existential crisis and I felt that Seydoux gave a great performance. However I must admit I did feel disappointed by the film overall. There’s a lot of interesting stories and takes on the media that Dumont presents here and it’s well directed, but there came a certain point in the film where it felt like it derailed and never really got back on track, leaving the final act to not work for me at all. In particular there was one moment that was very serious, yet it felt so absurdly out of place that it was almost comical. There were also moments where the score felt uneven or slightly out of place within certain scenes.

.

VERDICT

France starts strong and has a great performance from Léa Seydoux, but unfortunately the film faltered in the final act.

★★