a show business with the frenetic rhythm of news flashes


As the polysemy of its title indicates, France by Bruno Dumont is a two-sided film. Pile: an attack in order, enraged and debordienne, of a mutant entertainment society, today regenerated by continuous news channels, social networks and people press. France de Meurs (Léa Seydoux), presenter of a successful program on a major news channel (barely veiled caricature from CNews), reigns as a high priestess over this world. When she is not moderating heated debates between interchangeable editorialists, she goes into the field to cover major international conflicts.

If Bruno Dumont spent a filmography surveying a cinematographic territory which belongs only to him and which exists only under his gaze, it is fascinating to see a great filmmaker dialogue with the enemy. As an acerbic moralist, he observes a society asphyxiated by the “eventization” of the world, living to the frenetic rhythm of news flashes and “bad buzz”, and understands the way in which an entire media system stages and manufactures this hard drug that ‘became information.

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If the filmmaker lets televisual grammar invade his world, hitherto insanely protected, it is the better to devote a merciless fight to it, image against image. The director’s relentless gaze responds to the falsified staging of his heroine and to her life as a woman. The comatose and bourgeois couple that she forms with her husband Fred (Benjamin Biolay), their son whom she educates with the tips of her fingers in her frozen apartment, her meetings with Lou, her assistant, champion of cynicism perfectly camped by Blanche Gardin.

A bath of false situations

The journalist is immersed in a bath of false situations, of which Dumont reveals all the futility by a staging detail that comes back like a rhyme: instead of cutting a sequence when necessary (at the end of a dialogue by example), he stretches it, makes it last long enough until a void invades the moment – that moment when France no longer feels looked at, makes the mask fall.

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Front side: this title should be read, France, like that of a great 19th century noveliste century which would have given to his film the name of his heroine – Bovary, Karénine. Under media criticism, there is the breath of a great realistic novel. The story of a woman caught in her own trap: she who sells events to the masses is incapable of going through a single one. At least, until his car one day hit a young man’s scooter. Thanks to this accident, his world is turned upside down, forcing the harshness of reality. Another accident, later, will leave her unmoved.

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