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A dull and unfocused film on an interesting subject

Author: fechy from Switzerland
24 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At the outset, Ma Mondialisation had all the ingredients for a fascinating documentary movie: an exceptionally charismatic main character; interesting differences of scale as the film switches form his narrow French Alpine valley to booming Chinese cities; superheated discussions about differing business strategies among factory owners, some of whom appear to be cousins, and a rich array other conflict material.

The director makes very little of this as he plods from a travel sequence in Czechia to one in China. He fails to develop a clear point of view: is globalization good or bad for this valley, or both ? Is the large-scale investment by Anglo-Saxon venture capital a positive or negative development ? The valley certainly seems to prosper under the leadership of Mr. Bontaz and the capital inflow from overseas. By either remaining tiny or growing to global size, the metalworking factories have been able to preserve, even increase local jobs. So why does the film begin and end with a demonstration by a handful of labor union activists?

Ma Mondialisation also misses the mark when dealing with the factory personnel. It is not clear whether blue and white-collar workers are any more or less happy with their condition in China or in France, whether quirky Mr. Bontaz' leadership actually confers globalization a human face or whether he's just another industrialist chasing profits. Dramatic structure is absent.

Formally, Ma Mondialisation isn't any more satisfactory. Why these dull amateur video shots of computerized lathes in operation – instead of startling images of their strange poetic ballet complete with sprays of cutting fluids and shiny, almost Dadaist shavings? Why boring mountaintop pan-zooms of the valley, all the while failing to give us a sense of its topography and its industrial development? A thrilling helicopter sequence would have accomplished all that plus some spectacular views of Mont-Blanc, Europe's highest mountain. And poor editing to boot !

Unless you're a specialist in metalworking or an expert in local lore, you'll watch this documentary with growing frustration.

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