In 2017, chroniclers who tried to write the novel of the life of Emmanuel Macron, at the time an illustrious unknown who was elected president of France out of nowhere, quickly turned to Lucien de Rubempré, the celebrated character of Honoré de Balzac.
Main character of “Lost Illusions”, the greatest novel of the “Human Comedy”, described by Marcel Proust as the author’s masterpiece, he personifies the timeless desire of the common Frenchman to triumph in Paris, the capital transformed into an inaccessible fortress by Jacobin France. . Its film adaptation, celebrated in the country and winner of several awards, arrived in Brazilian theaters last Thursday (9).
If the era of sacrifice of feature films at the altar of television series and the globalization of scripts accentuated the intellectual decline of American cinema, it provoked a creative euphoria in French production. Duly sponsored by Gerard Depardieu, the protagonists Vincent Lacoste and Xavier Dolan are part of the new generation of French-speaking actors who grew up in the support of Omar Sy, Léa Seydoux and Jean Dujardin, responsible for renewing the French presence in Hollywood.
The success of series like “Dix Pour Cent” opened the doors of super productions to French directors. With a budget four times the average of a local film, “Illusions Perdidas” combines the sophistication of detail of a Luchino Visconti and the exuberance of an Anne Hathaway musical, without ever giving up the social criticism that characterizes French cinematography.
Festive scenes that would float like advertising breaks in any movie are complemented by powerful literary narratives that depict the power relations of the characters involved.
The desire to explain everything, which at the limit can get tiring, stems from director Xavier Gianolli’s desire to nudge the present with a historical novel. It is impossible not to see his attempt to draw a parallel between the plots of journalists, artistic directors and business magnates from the French worlds of the Second Restoration (1815-1830) and Macron’s “Jupiterian” government, both verticalized by an elite convinced of the its avant-garde.
The mirror effect between past and present places his work in the continuity of the classic work of Andrzej Wajda, who, in 1983, on the eve of the celebration of the bicentennial of the Revolution, produced “Danton” to denounce the idealization of the Soviet world by the western left. The New York Times reports that, on opening day, François Mitterand left the room before the end to avoid questions about the film’s political message.
Emmanuel Macron has yet to comment on “Illusions”, a film in the image of triumphant and global France that he extols so much, but which remains one of the most sophisticated criticisms of his reign. In any case, the native of the sleeping Touquet can already say that he has overcome Rubempré. His youth teacher became the woman of his life, and his return to the provinces, the ultimate humiliation for all upstarts, was indefinitely postponed by his re-election.
However, the yellow vests and the pale faces of the new coalition of the left created by Jean-Luc Melenchon are there to remind us that success in the arcades of power is still paid for with the hatred of the masses. “Lost Illusions” is a period film about the eternity of the dramas of French political life.