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The premise - not of the film itself, but let's say what surrounds it, its instance as it came to be - is interesting, namely, the depiction of a nation's President in his/her rise to power and while he/she still is in power; what titillates in such a premise is I think the promise that we truly live in democratic times and that means times that can pull off the apparition of such a film sincerely, exposing the machinations and the weaknesses of a leader, as some kind of demonstration in the making that turns spectacle into some kind of self-witnessing democracy in the making.
May I never write that sentence again.
What is so wrong with it? It suffers from plausibility of the politically correct kind, of a stupid, biased kind. Just take some steps back and reconsider the film you saw: would you really think having seen it that the film is a demonstration, or a proof that we live in democratic times?
Let's begin from the soundtrack that snaps right away: the references to Rota ground the film in Fellini territory, and so by cultural allusion we wonder if this wouldn't be more properly employed in Berlusconi's case - or is it that Berlusconi is in a way the future of
European at least - leadership, and so Sarkozy's vulgarity is a
peripheral phenomenon to the standard shamelessness of Berlusconi as stand-in for the Rota/Fellini circus?
But even this doubly misfires, I am afraid; I think to have a film critical of a head of state while still in power - truly, politically critical - could be the name of utopia itself, and doubly so: that means on the one hand practically it would never purely be so for at least at some point it would have to invent and so enter the ideological imagination of the script-writer (when Mrs. Almost-Ex-Sarkozy gratuitously cried towards the end I wished I had never entered the mind of this particular script-writer), or, in order to remember early 20th century propaganda frames, such a film would be a redundancy.
Yet we live in biased more than propaganda times: do we need radio and press and media exposition - if we have followed the political climate and state in France during the time - turned into a semi-fictionalized account? Does this not mistake, and it is a major mistake, information for political stance, which is another name for politicizing melodrama? But maybe we are still in a frame of mind not far from the one Jean Baudrillard exposed back in the 90's when Cicciolina (remember?) was elected in the Italian Parliament: it was literally for laughs, as a face-off of politics into female impersonation.
For what we have in the film are impersonators, and not actors. Perhaps there is a charm to it, watch your favorite buffoons played by some impersonators with the occasional poignant truism in their mouths here and there. But I do not want my genuine buffoon Sarkozy played - sorry, impersonated by another buffoon and spoil my male-bonding fun: and this is the crux of the matter for me: instead of just plainly turning a misconception into maybe a bad film, more importantly it turns a misconception into bad democracy anchored into macho innuendo.
I admit it was a bit harder for me to digest, since the spice added to my watching experience was the remembrance of watching Podalydes as Jean-Paul Sartre some years back in a french miniseries: he was truly bad, of the same brand of badness as here, that is over-reacting the body language and confounding the demarcation between it and bodily tics, as if attacking the whole thing totally from outside, and offering us the ludicrous ruin of a theatrical alphabet; think of Louis de Funes instead as what a truly ingenious confusion of the above categories would mean each time he exploded bodily coordinates, unless one conceives Podalydes' over-reacting as the allegory of the unhappy Left: the invasion of the body snatchers into the liberal body that mistakes bodily tics for politics!
Do not think of these asides irrelevant to the film - that is its ideology: they make all the more palpable the lack of political and aesthetic, cinematic decisions: to put it bluntly, if this film has some kind of political novelty - and is not as I believe something re-appropriated if not shamelessly pushed around by the liberal consensus - then it has to be supplemented by a film surrounding the rise to life of the Bruni-Sarkozy child, since it is the first time a President becomes father while in office! That would give us the glimpse to the hotness of the first lady we have so shamelessly and programmatically been declined: imagine Podalydes in seizure as he takes a baby from Laetitia Casta's bosom.
May we never have to see such a film.
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