July 16, 2021
Bruno Dumont takes aim at 24-news culture but his tale of a star reporter features its fair share of ill-conceived plot points
France review – Léa Seydoux provides firm anchor for unsteady media satire
France de Meurs is the most famous TV news journalist in la République. She’s a Gallic mash-up of Laura Kuenssberg, Kirsty Wark and Marie Colvin, as poised in the studio as she is in a war zone. Played by Léa Seydoux, France strides into battle with her platinum hair bouncing and her tight professional smile fixed with pink lipstick. But her success is a fiction, her career built out of spinning lies. The second she starts taking notes on herself, that big TV soundstage risks turning into a pumpkin.
Writer-director Bruno Dumont forged his reputation with small, anguished films about life on the margins, nosing in tight to his subjects to show them warts and all. The fitfully fascinating France has the same ominous air, but it has been freeze-dried and air-conned, perfumed by the wealth of Paris’s wealthier districts. Dumont’s secular crisis-of-faith drama has much to say about the corrosive effect of our 24-hour news culture. But it is also indecisive and compromised and plays out as a prolonged admission of defeat. Stable door, horse bolted. We might see the problems but we’re all a part of them, too.
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