Irène Frachon, a doctor who lives in the Breton town of Brest, dares to stand up to the French health and pharmaceutical industry, helping to uncover the media scandal surrounding the commercialization of a controversial medicine whose side effects have caused the death of hundreds of people.Written by
Based on the true story of how a doctor brought to light the harmful effects of a drug which, although intended for use as anti-diabetic medication, was often prescribed "off use" for weight loss and which allegedly resulted in 2,000 or more deaths before being withdrawn from the market through her efforts. See more »
A "KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON" variation on the famous meme is seen in the Figaro newsroom in 2010; it's a bit early for French journalists to pick up on that meme, which peaked in 2012-2013. See more »
It may be surprising but I'll begin with the movie weaknesses in my opinion:
First, its title (at least the French one). I don't understand that choice. Even if this Mediator affair exists thanks to Brest doctors whitleblowing - and the fight the movie will relate, I doubt it was an important point in the public mind, and was not at least in mine.
Second thing, it risks having people thing that this is a French "Erin Brockovich". Which is not.
And last, its start, which is a bit weak, especially the study part which could have been shown differently (Spotlight is a great example in that regard).
Despite these, it is a great movie. It tells without fault this scandal. A double scandal, as the company clearly cheated to make money on the health of the patients but French State has also failed in its mission of pharmacological surveillance.
It tells this without relating to special effect, distorting the truth or simplifying facts. Worth the fight of Irene Flachon actually. Speaking the truth, unvarnished, is not an easy fit (and we see in many movies that directors fears it won't be enough) but Emmanuelle Bercot trusts this story. She sticks to a simple way to film it, but that works and the movie get you involved in this fight.
On top of that, Sidse Babett Knudsen is doing a great job and I guess Irene Frachon can be happy with this casting.
It also shows how difficult is to escalate something abnormal, even in a country like France, as soon as there is big money implied. "The Clearstream Affair" illustrates the same thing when it comes to finance, still sticking to EU countries, as well as a lot of other whistleblower stories, less known.
Learning how to recognize and hear them is also an important aspect in "La fille de Brest" and I do hope this society issue will be tackled serioulsy (Law changed in France in 2016, with difficult debates about what can be done, giving birth to a better but still unsatisfying solution).
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