29 December 2019 | GrandeMarguerite
"Sympathie pour le diable" is with no doubt one of the great films of the year 2019. But with a rather unpleasant main character and a subject as unglamorous as the Sarajevo siege in the early 1990s, I don't think it will encounter a large success and it is a shame. Very well recreated and featuring very convincing actors, "Sympathie pour le diable" deserves indeed some attention -- and love from movie-goers.
Guillaume de Fontenay, the director, knew Paul Marchand who is the central figure of the film. A fearless war reporter, Marchand covered the Bosnian war for several French-speaking media (France Info, Radio Canada, RTBF...). In Sarajevo, which was surrounded by Serb forces constantly firing off mortar shells, Marchand and a handful of foreign correspondents gave daily accounts of the dreadful situation and devastation most Bosnians were in, between snipers shootings and bombings. The journalists had to rush with their cameras, microphones and notepads to capture the 'essence' of the civil war and try to catch the attention of the rest of the world about the ongoing massacre. And when they were not doing that, they killed time as they could.
Very realistic, "Sympathie pour le diable" brings you there, in the middle of an ugly war, at the heart of a never ending winter, always following closely Marchand and his team. Niels Schneider delivers a very good interpretation. Paul Marchand was no saint (he could be very critical of his colleagues' work for instance, or make compromising arrangements to get the best news), but was able to do some good whenever he wanted or when it was necessary. A real tribute to his work ethics, "Sympathie pour le diable" is a gripping first film that leaves you often breathless and makes you think long after its ending.