Xavier Durringer’s “The Conquest” (La conquete) is a perky, cheeky take on the rise of French President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2002-2007, featuring a fine turn by veteran comic actor Denis Podalydès as the wife-shedding social striver. Podalydès does a splendid job of typing the small, schlumpfy man’s apparent (and reported) well of arrogance. While there may be subtleties that were more apparent to the local audience, as well as the litany of scandals mentioned, Durringer’s approach is that of the boulevard comedy, of ready and amusing caricatures of politicos behind the scenes—a supremely foul-mouthed Jacques Chirac, Sarkozy as “the chirping magpie”—that beg the question whether it is a diminution of stature in politics or simple satiric instinct that makes such an acerbic portrait ring true. The score is by Nicola Piovani, who wrote music for Fellini, which is apparent pretty much straightaway. With Florence Pernel, Bernard Le Coq, Michèle Moretti, Samuel Labarthe, Emmanuel Noblet, Hippolyte Girardot. From Chicago’s Music Box Films, which seems to be turning into America’s premier distributor of an increasingly eclectic lineup of films from France. 105m. (Ray Pride)
“The Conquest” opens Friday at the Music Box.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.