The filmmaker paints an acid portrait of a television journalist devoured by ambition (played by Léa Seydoux) and pillories a media system presented as corrupt. A strong caricature, a mixed result.
Even the fiercest detractors of Bruno Dumont must admit it: the prologue to his new film surprises and promises a lot. In the opening sequence of “France”, the filmmaker of “La Vie de Jésus” and “Ma Loute”, through the grace of special effects, directs his heroine, France de Meurs (Léa Seydoux), a journalist star of a news channel called “I”, asking a question to a certain Emmanuel Macron on the sorry state of things in a socially fractured Hexagon.
Intoxicated by this moment of glory, the journalist does not listen to the presidential answer and, in the company of her assistant (Blanche Gardin), prefers to observe the number of “likes” caused on social networks by her intervention …
The rest is to match. With cowardly humor, Bruno Dumont, in the first part of his film, shoots red balls on the media-political sphere: show info, manipulation of images (France is agitated in the Sahel and elsewhere to stage touted reports that flatter his oversized ego), corruption of the elites communing on the double altar of relaxed cynicism and inter-self. We pass. Is there something rotten in the kingdom of France? To ask the question, a familiar refrain, is already to answer it.
Alas, too quickly, the film, freely inspired by an essay by Charles Péguy (“By this semi-clear morning”), an author Bruno Dumont has always adored, shoots himself several times in the foot by relying on excessive rehearsals and by indulging in all-out caricatures which considerably weaken his remarks on the ridiculous pretenses of celebrity, on the staging of information and on the abjection sadly put in the spectacle society of France today.
More serious: by filming, in the second part of “France”, a punitive journey for his heroine who suffers from a severe depression and finds himself trapped in pseudo-journalistic stratagems as devious as those fomented by him, the filmmaker draws the viewer into an unlikely meditation on moral redemption.
In the background: the territories of deep France where the “last of the ropes” suffer a thousand deaths. Despite its initial promises, “France”, like many Bruno Dumont films in the past, is characterized above all by its ideological confusion and a nihilism that runs on empty.