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France

Part of the Albertine Cinémathéque Festival

France

Léa Seydoux plays France de Meurs, a clout-chasing talk show host. France thinks she’s a journalist, but she’s really a vapid gadfly and a would-be demagogue.

Writer/director Bruno Dumont (“Outside Satan,” “Joan of Arc”) can’t get enough of France, because she only thinks that she’s mastered a personality-driven system of faux-populist reporting that she’s really internalized and thus accepted at face value. Seydoux’s character struggles to change her self-image after she accidentally strikes a motorcyclist with her car. But France was probably already doomed by the time we met her.

Over and over, Dumont reminds us of how little he thinks of France. Her cardinal sin isn’t that she’s too good at her job, though that also makes her an obvious target for our contempt. What really makes France a typical Dumont martyr is that she has no clue what really makes her job—and the unnaturally un-nuanced, demeaning point-of-view that it confirms—so contemptible: that the media has made us accept that it’s normal to see the world in simplistic, soundbite-friendly terms. France is a product of that system, and she’ll ultimately never really change, because again, she has no clue how to cope. Rather, she’ll keep unwittingly demeaning her interview subjects and insulting her audience just because she’s never really jarred out of her circle of influence, not matter how many personal and public crises threaten France. Alan Partridge, she ain’t.

— Simon Abrams, rogerebert.com

France

Thu December 1, 7:30 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium

Belgium, France, Germany, Italy; 2021; in English, Arabic, French, German; 133 min, digital

Director: Bruno Dumont, Writer: Bruno Dumont, Cast: Léa Seydoux, Blanche Gardin, Benjamin Biolay, Emanuele Arioli, Juliane Köhler

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