France tackles yellow journalism and sensationalism in a ridiculous and darkly satirical way that makes a mockery of the news outlets; it has Léa Seydoux going along with the bit, but it overstays its welcome with its unnecessarily lengthy runtime.
France de Meurs (Léa Seydoux) is a famous TV journalist whose stardom is caused by extreme measures and ridiculing moments. Her career, homelife, and psychological solidity change when she carelessly drives into a delivery man on the streets of Paris. The accident caused France to go on a series of self-destructive moments and get involved in a new romance. Her life is now taking more twists and turns than her fake media persona does, and she must find a way to stability.
News or media satires are not a new thing nor something that hasn’t been explored in the film format. For example, most of us know about the legendary Network (1976) and its memorable quote, “I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Gonna Take This Anymore!” or the slick Suzanne Stone Maretto in To Die For (1995). Bruno Dumont wants one of those moments. He wants his Peter Finch; he wants his Nicole Kidman. So, he casts the electric Léa Seydoux in the lead role as she can draw attention to herself by either charismatic, engaging, or emotive means.
With an intriguing first act, we see France de Meurs make her way onto mocking political party members, interviewing terrorists, and deriding other journalists as she gets most of the attention. Nobody takes her seriously; she is seen as only a joke who rambles and crafts problematic scenarios for monetary reasons. In many ways, that is true; she is deliberately making a joke of herself and them. Nobody seems capable of taking her down, right until the accident happens. She is the only person capable of knocking herself from her throne.
After the incident, it takes a turn for the worse, and its breaking-news-quick-pace slows down for a more “deliberate” breakdown of France’s psyche. The woman we knew, who seemed to have no weaknesses and faced every situation head forth is now breaking apart in front of our very eyes. Although interesting to hear, the scenes are schematically dull or without much sentiment. Regrettably, Dumont doesn’t choose the right words or techniques to elevate the pulpy schematic of a newsroom, and his film goes downhill steadily when the second act arrives.
What begins as a story about France de Meurs and her fame turns into a less exciting picture about a woman who is losing it all little by little as her reporting practices are questioned. Not that the theme is unexciting, but the script is muddled with segments that could be cut in favor of moments that build its story in an absorbing way. Its 133-minute runtime is significantly felt in its last act, making the viewer impatient to see where it wants to go.
We see what Dumont wanted to do: a satire of the outlets covering the daily news. Unfortunately, he seems lost in the subject, not knowing which route to go with. Seydoux, as in most of her roles, is magnetic; we don’t like her character, yet you, in some manner, support her. You can have a good plot and a dedicated cast that goes along with your shenanigans; however, they all go as far as its script and direction can take them. That is France’s weakness, as both a film and character.
Hector Gonzalez is a Puerto Rican chemical engineering student and film critic with a great passion for cinema, award shows, 1960s music, and the horror genre. Some of his favorite films are RAW, Eyes Without a Face, and The Green Ray.