Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Conquest (Rhoades)

“The Conquest”
Accurately Portrays
French President

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Biographies and biopics used to be reserved for people in history books. But the new film “The Conquest” sets out to portray French president Nicolas Sarkozy while he’s still in office.
Aside from being married to former supermodel Carla Bruni (“Midnight In Paris”), he is known as the “hyper-président” for his attempts to control both foreign and domestic policies. He’s been compared to Napoleon Bonaparte and Louis XIV by his critics.
The film focuses mainly on how Sarkozy won the 2007 elections. Replete with in-party backstabbing, media manipulation, sarcastic confrontations, and extramarital affairs. Even so, the film’s a little short on storyline.
One moviegoer groused that “the whole plot has been written from press cutouts from LeFigaro et Libération.” But others applaud the film’s close-to-reality detail: look-alike faces, manner of speaking, physical gestures, right down to Sarkozy’s personal ticks. The actors who play former president Jacques Chirac, former prime minister Dominique de Villepin, and Sarkozy are dead ringers for their real-life counterparts.
Director-writer-producer Xavier Durringer (“Chok-Dee”) doesn’t pull any punches. His film offers a no-holds-barred depiction of right-leaning Sarkozy as “a monomaniacal, power-hungry little despot.”
Yes, Sarkozy is short.
His leggy wife Carla is not central to the story, the film concentrating more on the relationship between Sarkozy and then-wife Cécilia.
“The Conquest” premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Carla Bruni, who was there to promote “Midnight in Paris,” skipped the Red Carpet, worried about the questions this scathing indictment of her hubby might encourage. Alas, being the trophy wife of le président de la République is not all champagne toasts and diplomatic receptions.
Although based on public documents and first person accounts, the film is nominally described as a work of fiction. Despite being called a “political docu-comedy,” there are not many laughs. Chalk this up to political dramas like “Frost-Nixon,” “W,” and “The Queen.”
“The Conquest” is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.
The film’s star Denis Podalydès (“State Affairs,” “The Da Vinci Code”) could pass as the French president at a glance. He depicts Sarkozy as a shrewd hustler willing to flip-flop for the sake of a vote. A great impersonation, you might say. Or vitriolic parody. Turns out, he supported Ségolène Royal in France’s 2007 presidential campaign.

No comments: