The film isn’t a total wash. Seydoux finds ways to move and emote through her Noh mask, and Dumont finds interesting avenues to explore, tracking the uneasy dance between compassion and commodification when dealing with hot-button stories. Only it’s all too much, too long, too repetitive, too one-note, too contemptuous of the very idea of cinematic pleasure to really land.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Perhaps it is precisely Dumont’s point that satire and the real world have been converging for a long time, but this alone is not enough insight to sustain a movie that’s over two hours long and contains a protagonist few will warm to. for such a high-powered auteur/leading-lady collaboration, France feels decidedly unspectacular.
Through the character of France, Dumont crafts an entertaining critique of the media more interesting for its formal and stylistic oddities than for its arguments, especially in the way he radically slows down a usually frenetic world.
This satire about media, emotional alienation and – need it be said? – the state of the nation makes its point quickly and forcefully before going on to make it again and again, with different modulations, for over two hours. It’s a shame, because somewhere within this sprawling piece is something audacious and playful.
Dumont’s secular crisis-of-faith drama has much to say about the corrosive effect of our 24-hour news culture. But it is also indecisive and compromised and plays out as a prolonged admission of defeat.