Appraising her country’s various ills with a healthy dose of Gallic gallows humor, the filmmaker has delivered a kind of screwball comedy full of physical gags, rat-a-tat dialogue and intricate choreography that veers towards a weightier third act while offering plenty of belly laughs along the way.
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Marrying the discord of romantic separation and social unrest, The Divide is a tiresome frustration of a film whose advocacy for across-the-aisle bonding rings false and flimsy, even in its most pleasant moments.
Even though it sometimes feels as if Corsini is trying to keep too many plates spinning, the whole risky exercise pays off to provocative effect.
Part gritty public service dystopia, part modern-day farce about the yellow vests movement that ripped through the country in late 2018, the film can be both entertaining and surprisingly funny, especially if you’re familiar with France’s politics and current economic woes. But it’s also too on-the-nose about what it wants to say, or rather, shout as loud as it can, regarding the country’s accumulated social wreckage.
Corsini keeps up the anxiety, jumping from scene to scene and person to person with a giddy, nervous energy that at least promises the film, as annoying as it might be, is never boring.
This is a well-intentioned film with some forthright performances, although there’s a fair bit of actorly shouting going on and the smiley spaciness of Bruni-Tedeschi can sometimes feel a bit affected.
The characters can be so grating, watching The Divide feels like sticking your head in the garbage disposal. But as unwieldy as the multi-tentacled narrative can be — just think of the logistics required to stage it! — the experience adds up to something unshakeable.