The Last Mitterrand (2005)

  |  Biography, Drama


The Last Mitterrand (2005) Poster

A young journalist (Lespert) helps the French President compile his memoirs.


7.1/10
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9 September 2005 | Fiona-39
9
| a departure for Guediguian
This is not your usual biopic. It is more of a rumination on those big abstract topics the French love so much: what is a legacy? Where is French glory to be found? Does France even have any resonance or sense any more in the face of globalisation/EU? The meanings of Frenchness are clearly articulated here by Guediguian's camera which lovingly records fields of hay, Chartres cathedral, and the lined faces of the 'travailleurs': it is here that the documentary impulse of the film lies, rather than in its tracing of Mitterrand's past, and here that we can see the links to Guediguian's more usual style and themes of filming with their socio-political investment in "ordinary" people. What seems to fascinate the film is less the issue of whether Mitterrand joined the Resistance in 42 or 43 (we never learn the "true" answer) but what happens to a man when he is in power. Mitterrand is closed in by grey doors in the beautiful Elysee palace which becomes a living prison of coldness (interesting the moment where he praises the colour grey). We never get a sense of the man having a family, even though he talks lovingly of a daughter: we see him constantly surrounded by men in black, with him out of a sense of professional duty rather than because they care for him. Power cuts you off from those you are meant to serve...Mitterrand's closest relationship is to the petrified former rulers of France. A chilling portrait of what happens when a man turns himself into an icon. And a movingly brilliant performance from Bouquet, who perfectly captures the horror of the body that slowly falls apart...The film ends on a note of hope for the future, with the birth of a child and the forming of a new relationship: but it is noticeable that it is in the private sphere that Guediguian places hope for the future: the hope of a committed leftist project has perhaps died along with Mitterrand.

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Biography | Drama

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