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Film Review – LA Conquest

Director: Xavier Durringer
Screenplay: Xavier Durringer, Patrick Rotman.
Cast: Denis Podalydès, Bernard LeCoq, Florence Pernel, Michele Moretti, Samuel Labarthe
Genre: Political Drama
Venue: FNCC Cinema.

Every Wednesday the Franco Namibia Cultural Centre shows films by Namibian filmmakers or foreign films with relevance to the Namibian film landscape. The films are then available for rent to the public. This week they showed a film that has often been described as one of the best films in French cinema, – 2011’s La Conquet.
La Conquet, (the conquest) takes a look into the life and rise of power of France’s president Nicholas Sarkozy between the years 2002-2007. A complete expose of the flaws that the ‘midget president ‘ has and depicts how through the help of his wife Cecilia Sarkozy, he manages to become the man that become one of France’s revolutionary men in the 21st century. The film has been dubbed ‘The man behind the woman behind the man’ by French film critics.
Nicolas Sarkozy, an ambitious man working as Jacques Chirac’s Interior Minister is nurtured by Chirac who has no intention of re-running for office. Chirac is intrigued by Sarkozy’s charisma and leaderships skills and nurtures him to become a formidable opponent for Dominic Villepin who is played by Bernard LeCoq.
Florence Pernel who plays his wife Cecilia did a good job in playing the first lady and shows the audience the truth in the saying ‘behind every great man is a woman’. Cecilia was not only Sarkozy’s wife but adviser. On the day the diminutive Sarkozy conquered his ultimate ambition his wife who for twenty years had to take second place to ambition, talks to him in his mind. But even in her absence after their divorce her words echoe in the power hungry man’s head and helps him win the presidential seat.The actors all come together to make this one of the best political dramas ever to be made. They all have acting skills that dovetail very successfully to make this movie a pleasant watch, and also work to provoke many thoughts in the viewer’s mind. Bernard LeCoq is perfect as Jacques Chirac, Samuel Labarthe excels at playing Dominic Villepin, a powerful figure in French political life.
The film shows that Sarkozy is a man that did not hide his ambition even though he is the subject of belittling by his opponents because of his morals and size. His marital problems almost cost him the presidential seat as his opponents try to put it in the minds of the people that “if Sarkozy cannot hold on to his wife what more of France”.
La Conquest is a movie worth watching, the camera work is remarkable, the script is very good and it just has the right sprinkle of humor for a movie of its genre. Its like being in a political arena without the usual brawls, but rather, it provides an  insight into what makes a great man, what makes him green with envy and red with fury. It depicts the cruelty of politics and also the bitter-sweet truth about politics. Not a cold souffle but rather a fresh out of the oven baguette.

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