Thursday, November 13, 2014

Le Président

1961, France, directed by Henri Verneuil

Although based on a Simenon novel and imbued with a good deal of tension, Le Président is a political film rather than a crime piece, and one that's deeply rooted in the realities of French political life between the twenties and fifties, particularly the country's chronic political instability. Gabin plays the retired elder statesman who is still connected to current political life, and he's at the top of his game -- he plays nearly twenty years older with a great deal of ease, as an entirely convincing amalgam of various French politicians (Clemenceau being the most obvious reference point). It's a rare film that's quite this interested in the intricacies of political manoeuvring, and it helps to have a passing familiarity with ways in which governments were formed and dissolved in France, but the performances are ample compensation in themselves, with Bernard Blier especially notable in support. 

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States