In a world where the factual state of current affairs are dictated largely by what channel you click or what accounts you follow, Bruno Dumont’s latest film France (2021) is remarkably poignant. Lea Seydoux plays France De Beurs, the French people’s answer to Barbara Walters if Walters ever did cable TV news. She’s a gregarious, fiery and ambitious news anchor who not only delivers the news, but embodies it. She is part of the story, in every report angling the lens around her to create a frame which she wants to set.
France is supremely confident of her abilities as a news anchor to orchestrate the world around her, that it spills out into her personal life and in the public eye she seems almost untouchable. We see her newsreels as a foreign correspondent on the front line, running through the foothills of a war-torn region to meet a rural loyalist group or doing a video to camera from a boat packed with migrants making the crossing to Europe. Behind the scenes however we see the deliberately calculated scenes being created, with soldiers being told where to stand and how to do VT’s. Her over orchestrating and over controlling nature will be to her detriment eventually when she is unable to see the wood from the trees, unable to see that reality cannot be scripted.
Her assistant Lou is superbly played by comedian Blanche Gardin who is at her beck and call to shower her with praise. Lou is the embodiment of the media machine, empowering France to push the limits and is all too willing to be completely contradictory in order to please her client and keep her laser focused on the ratings game.
When an unfortunate accident occurs in which she knocks a delivery driver down, for the first time it brings reality knocking on her door, and is completely inept and incapable of dealing with it. This sets off a chain of personal events that must now be dealt with by the rules of the media machine. These issues cannot be readily edited out or spun another way, leaving her unable to decipher the difference between reality and fiction.
France is all too willing to embarass, be pushy and slam people for their failings publicly but cannot take this when the tables are turned. The media machine that she feeds ultimately is the very monster that hollows her out. She takes a professional break from TV like she’s finally breaking free from a cult, but it’s not long before she is drawn back into it and we see a battered woman continuing to batter others. The salaciousness of the world is too irresistible and in truth, she knows no better. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable watch with a superb cast.
#France de Bruno Dumont
#Cannes Film Festival
#Festival de Cannes