Comedy Drama

TIFF Review: ‘France’ is a Satire About the Mainstream Media That Takes Itself Too Seriously

September 15, 2021Ben MK

As the old saying goes, "Don't shoot the messenger." However, in our social media age where information saturation has reached an all-time high and the media personalities that bring us the news and opinions we all consume every day can often be as popular as some of the people they report on, it's no surprise that the phrase has lost some of its meaning.

Enter Bruno Dumont's France, a story about a television journalist named France de Meurs (Léa Seydoux) who also happens to be one of France's most respected and highly paid reporters. The host of a nightly program called "A View of the World," France is no stranger to being the center of attention, both on the air and while she's going about her day-to-day life. But when she accidentally hits a motorcyclist with her car while dropping her 10-year-old son Joseph (Gaëtan Amiel) at school one day, it sets into motion a chain of events that will see her career and her personal life changed forever. Suddenly, France finds herself questioning her marriage to her husband Frédéric (Benjamin Biolay) and her own professional aspirations. So when she meets a man who appears to see her for who she really is, will she finally find the happiness she's been searching for?

Suffice to say, Seydoux is appropriately devastating in the title role, often conveying more emotion in her eyes alone than other actors are able to communicate with their entire faces. Still, the result proves disappointingly lacking thanks to the nature of the material itself. Part art house drama, part mainstream media satire, France is never quite sure what kind of film it wants to be. And it's because of this indecisive ambitiousness that it ultimately falters — much like its lead character herself.

France screens under the Special Presentations programme at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 13 min.

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